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[personal profile] primaleph
President Obama,

I've already signed a petition, but this issue is important enough that I decided to write a personal letter also. I sincerely hope it reaches you, or at least someone who can bring it to your attention.

As I'm sure you're aware, the Defense of Marriage Act has been law since President Clinton signed it late in his second term. Because it empowers the federal government to ignore lawful marriages performed in states with legal gay marriage, it is clearly unconstitutional and always has been. Now a federal judge has ruled it as such, and I understand you are considering having the federal government appeal that ruling.

I am writing to ask you, please, to reconsider. I am a gay American, and like most gay Americans I supported you in the election because of your very progressive positions on gay rights. I applaud your extension of domestic partner benefits to federal employees and your support of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." but if you decide to appeal this judge's ruling, all of that will mean very little.

You were a law professor - a friend of mine was in your class at the U of C in fact, and spoke very highly of your teaching - so I know you understand the legal implications here. The "full faith and credit" and "equal protection" clauses of the Constitution must be upheld as sacrosanct, else we are no longer a Union. I am sure you can explain why far more eloquently than I ever could.

Beyond that, you seem to me to be a man of integrity, a man of your word. At times the realities of national politics have forced you to compromise, but now must not be one of those times. Please don't betray the trust and faith of the millions of gay Americans who supported you in the election with our donations of time and money. Please consider: If you don't take a stand now, like you promised you would, against gay Americans being treated like second-class citizens, who will? No one with any ability to cause real policy change, that's for sure.

This is a great opportunity: an opportunity to emphasize that separate is inherently unequal, that in America we do not stand for discrimination of any kind. As our nation's first black president, you are a living symbol of that fact. Fundamentalist Christian religious beliefs have no place in our secular constitutional government, and to affirm that all you have to do is nothing.

Just don't appeal the decision. Please. Allowing the DOMA to fall is the right thing to do; you said so during your campaign, and it is still true now.

Sincerely,
Jason Louis Feldstein

Date: 2010-07-10 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chronarchy.livejournal.com
My understanding may be flawed, but if it is not appealed, it will only apply to Mass. If it is appealed to District court, it could potentially apply to several states.

I'm seeing advantages to appeal, actually, since failure to appeal will simply allow DOMA to stand in all other states.

Date: 2010-07-10 12:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] primaleph.livejournal.com
Are you sure about that? I was under the impression that since it was a federal judge making the decision, it could be used as precedent (and is binding) in any state.

Date: 2010-07-10 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chronarchy.livejournal.com
I'm positive that it's not binding in every state; no article I've seen indicates that. I did, though, misquote the type of court: It was a district court that found it unconstitutional; an appeal would go to the First Circuit court, which (if it were upheld there) would apply the rule to MA, ME, RI, and NH.

See the NPR story which indicates that it's only "good" in MA, the CNN story which also indicates that it's MA only, and the FoxNews story which indicates that the First Circuit would take it up on appeal (other stories also indicated that, but they've been updated and seem to have discarded it as "unnecessary information" since this morning when I saw it on NPR and CNN).

I'm pretty sure that only a review by the Supreme Court can reject a law across the nation, and that will require additional appeals beyond the First Circuit, obviously.

I think that, if the First Circuit agrees with the ruling and the Supreme Court declines to take up an appeal, it will become a precedent that will make it a de facto "law of the land" because it will be pretty clear that DOMA isn't constitutional at that point.

Check out the Wikipedia article on appellate courts in the US.

Honestly, I didn't know most of this before this morning myself: it's just never really come up before in my life. . . but I'm excited to see this happening!

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