The Wrong Side of History
By Rachel Rendeiro, 2010 summer intern There has been a lot of talk lately about the recent Federal District Court decisions invalidating portions of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, which, among other things, disrespects both states’ and civil rights by prohibiting the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages—even when they are legal at the state level. On July 8, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts handed down two landmark opinions (here's one, here's the other) that struck down some of the most offensive provisions of the law. While it remains unclear whether the Obama administration will opt to appeal the decisions, these long-awaited holdings certainly represent a considerable stride forward in the struggle for equal marriage rights. Unfortunately, in states like Texas, where discrimination against LGBT couples is written into the state constitution, the ruling will have very little immediate impact. In effect, the ruling prohibits the federal government from singling out same sex marriages as undeserving of its recognition. In other words, same sex marriages granted in states like Massachusetts and Iowa must also be acknowledged by the Federal government. However, the decisions do not require states—like Texas—that already ban same sex marriage, to put an end to state-sanctioned discrimination. Regardless, these recent decisions should send a strong signal to Texas lawmakers that they are on the wrong side of history where LGBT rights are concerned. The rulings should also further galvanize Texans who champion civil liberties and encourage them to continue fighting to end discrimination against LGBT couples. It is time to tell our lawmakers that discrimination has no place in Texas!