As of 2015, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community continues to struggle for equal rights held by their straight counterparts. Socially, LGBT persons are subject to discrimination, hate crimes, and stigma, while legally, LGBT persons encounter obstacles that preclude them from basic rights afforded to every other subculture in America. One of the most divisive issues related to LGBT rights has been same-sex marriage, which has been creating conflict both politically and socially dating back to the 1970’s (Finnis, 1997). Those in favor of same-sex marriage argue that regardless of gender or sexual preference, marriage is a basic right that the government has no legitimate interest in blocking. Opponents argue that same-sex marriage is ethically and morally wrong, and they cite reasons spanning from religious beliefs to the creation of a slippery slope that would lead to the demise of the institution of marriage (Volokh, n.d.). Faced with the difficult task of balancing both sides of the equation, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the policy that will be analyzed in this paper.
DOMA, which passed by a majority in both houses of Congress and was signed by President Clinton in 1996, essentially defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman (Finnis, 1997). In this act, no states are required to honor same sex marriages performed in other states (Finnins, 1997). No state is required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of another such organization with respect to a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other organizations or a right or claim arising from such relationship, and marriage is the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife (Stewart, 2003).
From a legislative perspective, DOMA both set a federal standard for marriage while protecting the states’ rights to create their own definitions of marriage and laws without having to recognize states that choose to define marriage in a conflicting manner.
Description of the social problem being addressed
This act was passed to address the social problem of same-sex marriage, which as explained previously, can be viewed from two different angles. Based on the wording of DOMA, it may be inferred that the act’s intentions more closely align with opponents of same-sex marriage, and that the social problem it aimed to correct was the threat of same-sex marriage. In a webpage that presents its talking points, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) defines its beliefs as to why traditional marriage must be protected, targeted toward three of the U.S.’s major religious demographics (NOM, n.d). NOM’s reasoning is that same-sex marriage, by attempting to redefine marriage, puts the institution of marriage at risk which in turn will contribute to a number of other social problems. These problems include increased risk...