“A federal appeals court in New York became the nation’s second to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, finding that the Clinton-era law’s denial of federal benefits to married same-sex couples is unconstitutional” (CNN. 10/18/2012)
This ruling represents another small step forward for the LGBTQ community. With this ruling, there is more conflict and confusion between the individual states and the federal government regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This speeds up DOMA’s inevitable rise to the Supreme Court. Many scholars believe this will happen in the next 5 years, and with the much more favorable outlook of younger generations on same sex marriage (and that DOMA=discrimination), there is at least a strong possibility that the Supreme Court will strike down the law.
However, I want to analyze DOMA within the context of this election. Obama is in favor of repealing DOMA. and Romney is not. But this issue is not very prominent in this election cycle. The news media has not made it a prominent issue. Neither of the presidential debates mentioned DOMA at all. The VP debate didn’t either. It is clear that neither candidate wants LGBTQ rights to be in the spotlight this close to the election.
Romney likely does not want to bring this issue to the spotlight so that he can appeal to as many independent and soft Democrats as he can. It makes more sense for him to pound Obama on the economy and present himself as more of a moderate alternative that can put the country back on its feet. If he were to start talking about LGBTQ rights he would risk a lot. Taking a more liberal approach would likely cause a drop in election day turnout for his conservative base. Taking a more conservative approach would make him more unappealing to the independents and Democrats who are unsatisfied with Obama and who he is trying so hard to appeal to.
Obama may not want to bring this issue to the spotlight because it could be seen as a political ploy to try to bring attention away from the economy. He also could lose ground with seniors who are more likely to support DOMA. He also does not have a lot to gain from this issue, save the few independents and more liberal Republicans that have a gay friend or member of the family. The LGBTQ community is already widely supportive of the President.
The last presidential debate is focused on foreign policy. DOMA and gay rights are unlikely to come up as it is a domestic issue. In the closing weeks of the campaign I feel it is unlikely that this issue will get any more attention than it has been. Neither candidates have a lot to gain, and DOMA is not on the forefront of most voters minds. But no matter who wins the election, and which party controls the House and Senate, this issue is inching closer to the highest court in the land. New York’s appeals court just helped it along the way.