DOMA Supporters: Fight Isn't Over

Wednesday, 26 Jun 2013 01:07 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Leaders of a family advocates' group in Pennsylvania insisted that the Supreme Court's landmark decision on the Defense of Marriage Act will not affect the fight in a pending same-sex marriage case in their state.

"Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as it has always been defined across Western civilization, remains intact," said Pennsylvania Family Institute President Michael Geer in a statement posted on the organization's Facebook page Wednesday.

Supreme Court justices struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in Congress to bar federal recognition of same-sex marriages and deny benefits to married gay couples.

The court also ruled that plaintiffs in the case of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in California, did not have legal standing to bring the lawsuit, meaning gay weddings could resume in that state in July.

Randall Wenger, PFI chief counsel, insisted the Supreme Court's ruling won't impact a landmark case in Pennsylvania, that of Cozen O'Connor v. Tobits.

In that case, Jennifer Tobits, whose same-sex wife, Sarah Lynn Farley was a partner at the Cozen O'Connor law offices in Philadelphia, contends she is owed some $41,000 in profit-sharing benefits left when Farley died.

The couple was married in Canada in 2006 and lived in Chicago. However, Farley's parents insist federal and Pennsylvania law don't recognize their union as legal, and say the money should go to them, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Wenger said the federal Supreme Court's ruling "is a stark reminder of the threat posed by same-sex marriage to our founding freedom: the freedom of religion."
"The definition of marriage should be decided by the people and their representatives, not unelected judges," said Wenger, who represents one of the defendants in the Pennsylvania marriage case. "The people of Pennsylvania have spoken in the form of the commonwealth’s bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, and that democratic process should be respected."

Other opponents pointed out that the ruling did not entirely lift bans to same-sex marriages, because it upheld "section 2," of DOMA which allows states to define marriage for themselves, reports NBC News.

That "means that the states still get to define marriage for themselves and don't have to recognize marriages performed in other states," John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, told NBC.

His organization has spent tens of millions of dollars to block same-sex marriage, and vows to continue the fight.

"We clearly have a mixed ruling here," said Eastman. "Justice Kennedy did not say that all states must recognize same-sex marriage. In fact, his opinion is full of deference to the states determination of marriage policy."

But while opponents vowed to keep up the fight, advocates of same-sex marriage were cheering in the streets across the nation.

In Sacramento, supporters gathered at the midtown Sacramento Lambda Center to await the decision, including two women wearing bridal veils. Before the decision was announced at 7:01 a.m. Pacific Time, reports the Sacramento Bee, a person in the crowd said, "This is the longest minute ever."

There was also deafening applause and cheering at the San Francisco City Hall when the announcement was made. A crowd of about 500 people were watching television for the announcement, The Bee reports.

In Pittsburgh, a section of Liberty Avenue, a busy downtown street, was closed for supporters to await the word, reports The Post-Gazette.

The decisions came some 40 years after the first gay pride event was held in Pittsburgh, and people were out to celebrate, unfurling a giant rainbow flag that stretched across the street, where the annual Pittsburgh Pride celebration was held about two weeks ago.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus drew cheers when he took the stand and said, "To my fellow gay, lesbian, transsexual, and queer friends, welcome to full equality!"


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