glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy





social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)  
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  

The campaign issued a number of well-made videos that emphasized the generalized harm that Amendment One would cause. Most of these videos barely mentioned gay and lesbian people. Others in effect endorsed a ban on same-sex marriage but said Amendment One "goes too far."

The strategy was fatally flawed. It conceded too much and it gave the impression that our own campaign was ashamed of gay and lesbian people. It suggested that the collateral damage done to unmarried heterosexual couples was a greater affront than the ban on same-sex marriage itself.

Sponsor Message.

The message was inauthentic from the beginning. Our mobilizing against Amendment One in reality had little or nothing to do with the collateral damage and everything to do with the ban on same-sex marriage.

In contrast to our obfuscation, our opposition defined the question clearly: for them Amendment One was about homosexuality and it was intended to punish gay men and lesbians and to devalue their relationships.

Indeed, for our opponents, the entire campaign was about sin. They unleashed a campaign that can be described only as disgusting. It was utterly unrestrained by any sense of decency. They made no pretense of conducting a civil campaign about policy issues. For them, it was an expression of religious belief. A vote for Amendment One was a vote for Jesus.

Unfortunately, our official campaign was too timid to respond vigorously to the opposition's frank bigotry. Besides, to do so would be "off message," since our side continued the pretense that the campaign was not about homosexuality.

We should have forthrightly defended same-sex marriage. We should have said that same-sex marriage was itself good, good both for same-sex couples and good for the institution of marriage. We should have insisted that it was unfair and unAmerican to deny citizens equal rights.

Marriage equality advocates have had scant success in challenging state DOMAs in state courts. However, the blatant animus and the clear religious tenor of the campaign for Amendment One in North Carolina may offer an opportunity to challenge its constitutionality.

In addition, as the November 2012 election proved, the tide may have turned in terms of popular acceptance of same-sex marriage. In the November 2012 election, not only did two states--Washington and Maryland--ratify marriage equality laws that had passed state legislatures, but one state--Maine--adopted same-sex marriage as the result of a referendum. In addition, Minnesota voters repealed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. (Not surprisingly, in the legislative session following the November 2012 election, the Minnesota legislature passed a marriage equality law.)

Moreover, the resounding decision declaring the federal DOMA unconstitutional in the Windsor case should offer powerful ammunition to challenge the constitutionality of state DOMAs in both state and federal courts.

Claude J. Summers

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about Social Sciences

   Related Entries
social sciences >> Overview:  Civil Union

Vermont's Civil Union law conferred all the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of marriage on same-sex couples.

social sciences >> Overview:  Domestic Partnerships

"Domestic partnership" is the generic term for a variety of forms of legal and institutional recognition of same-sex couples that fall short of same-sex marriage.

social sciences >> Overview:  Immigration Law

Those countries that allow the immigration of glbtq persons based on persecution in their home countries often raise difficulties or apply the existing laws inequitably, especially in the case of glbtq couples who apply for entry as domestic partners.

social sciences >> Overview:  Same-Sex Marriage

Lesbian and gay couples have been fighting for the freedom to marry since the dawn of the modern glbtq struggle for equality; despite some success abroad, progress toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been slow.

social sciences >> ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project

For more than four decades, the ACLU has been at the forefront of litigation and education designed to secure glbtq rights on a variety of fronts.

social sciences >> Baldwin, Tammy

The first out lesbian elected to the United States Congress, Democratic legislator Tammy Baldwin has been a strong supporter of glbtq rights, but she is far from a one-issue politician.

social sciences >> Bonauto, Mary

American attorney Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, has won major rulings that have brought the promise of equal rights nearer to reality.

social sciences >> Bowers v. Hardwick / Lawrence v. Texas

Two of the most significant Supreme Court decisions regarding constitutional liberty for glbtq people are Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003).

social sciences >> Frank, Barney

Openly gay U. S. congressman Barney Frank has been a leader not only in the cause of gay and lesbian rights but also on issues including fair housing, consumer rights, banking, and immigration.

social sciences >> Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)

New England's leading legal organization dedicated to equal justice for glbtq individuals and families, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) provides litigation, advocacy, and educational work in all areas of glbtq civil rights.

social sciences >> GetEqual

The direct action group GetEqual has gained attention by its bold action, including civil disobedience, on behalf of equal rights for glbtq people.

social sciences >> Hughes, Chris (b. 1983), and Sean Eldridge (b. 1986)

Chris Hughes, one of the founders of the social networking site Facebook, also spearheaded the social networking efforts of the 2008 Obama campaign; he and his partner Sean Eldridge are activists for marriage equality.

social sciences >> Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund

The largest glbtq legal advocacy group in the United States, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund has been fighting for the civil rights of queer Americans and people with HIV/AIDS for over three decades.

social sciences >> Pocan, Mark

A former seven-term member of the Wisconsin Assembly, Mark Pocan easily won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.

social sciences >> Polis, Jared

Businessman and philanthropist Jared Polis became one of only three openly gay members in Congress, and the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a freshman, when he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.

social sciences >> Proposition 8 (California)

Proposition 8, also known as the California Marriage Protection Act, was the ballot proposition that amended the California state constitution to ban same-sex marriage; after prolonged litigation in both state and federal court, it was finally struck down in June 2013.

social sciences >> Ride, Sally

Sally Ride made history as the first American woman in space when she flew as a mission specialist aboard Challenger in 1983; her lesbianism was not widely known until shortly after her death.

social sciences >> Romer v. Evans

Romer v. Evans (1996) marks the first time in its history that the U. S. Supreme Court recognized lesbians and gay men as worthy and deserving of equal rights.

social sciences >> Studds, Gerry

Representative Gerry Studs, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was the first member of the United States Congress to acknowledge that he was gay.

social sciences >> Wolfson, Evan

Evan Wolfson has participated in some of the crucial legal battles in the struggle for glbtq rights, and has been particularly visible in the quest for marriage equality.


Barr, Bob. "No Defending the Defense of Marriage Act." Los Angeles Times (January 5, 2009):

"Bereaved Spouse Challenges Defense of Marriage Act as Unconstitutional." (November 8, 2010):

B[onin], Adam. "Federal Court Holds DOMA Unconstitutional." Daily Kos (July 8, 2010):

Egelko, Bob. "Court Win for Same-Sex Couples Seeking Benefits." SFGate (January 20, 2011):

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. "Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Decisions in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services." (November 12, 2010):

_____. "Pederson et al. v. Office of Personnel Management et. al.: Frequently Asked Questions." (November 9, 2010):

Galloway, Jim. "Bill Clinton Drops Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage." Political Insider. Atlanta Journal Constitution (July 14, 2009):

Keen, Lisa. "DOMA Decisions Released: Two Huge Victories for Marriage Equality." Bay Windows (July 8, 2010):

Leonard, Arthur S. "California DOMA Challenge Advances." Gay City News (January 23, 2011):

_____. "DOMA Section 3 Held Unconstitutional by Federal Judge in Massachusetts." Leonard Link (July 8, 2010):

Savage, Charlie. "Suits on Same-Sex Marriage May Force Administration to Take a Stand." New York Times (January 28, 2011):

Schwarz, John. "Gay Couples to Sue Over Defense of Marriage Act." New York Times (November 8, 2010):


    Citation Information
    Author: Summers, Claude J.  
    Entry Title: Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2011  
    Date Last Updated July 9, 2013  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.