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Divided on same-sex marriage // WHY DENY GAYS?

The "Defense of Marriage Act" was introduced in the U.S. House on May 7, and in the Senate, May 8. Call the congressional clowns who introduced this piece of legislation, DOMA and more DOMA.

It's an act of hysteria. A few of our elected officials are worried that Hawaii's Supreme Court may legalize same-sex marriages in that state next year. DOMA indicates they'll do just about anything to stop homosexual marriages from spreading.

The act, in an unconstitutionally arrogant move by members of Congress, attempts to define and prescribe marriage. It would "nationalize" the institution. "Marriage," it states, "means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." Same-sex unions could not be marriages, according to this act.

Nowhere in the Constitution is there authority for Congress to define or qualify what a marriage is. If we are still talking about enumerated powers under the Constitution _ that is, if we still recognize that we have a constitutional government _ then the lawmakers who co-sponsored this act have far exceeded their authority.

The Constitution does not mention marriage. It delegates no powers in this area.

Civil marriages have traditionally been the province of the states. You may rightly suppose that the current U.S. Supreme Court will not look kindly upon the federal government intruding itself in what has always been a state function.

Reps. Bob Barr, R-Ga., introduced DOMA in the U.S. House. Sens. Don Nickles, R-Okla., and Robert Dole, R-Kans., co-sponsored the same bill in the Senate.

They should hide their faces for creating this nasty piece of government intrusion into our private lives.

What happened to the GOP motto: "Let's get the government off our backs"? Perhaps, we missed the rest of the motto: ". . . and put it in our bedrooms."

In another blatantly unconstitutional provision, DOMA says that if one state recognizes a same-sex marriage, other states do not have to recognize that marriage as legal.

Article IV, section 1, of the Constitution ensures that "full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State."

Article IV guarantees that a child legally adopted in one state is the legitimate child of his adoptive parents in all states. A driver's license issued in one state is recognized by all states. Adults legally married in Oklahoma are considered married in every state.

Think of the havoc it would cause if your marriage were not recognized in another state.

You could suddenly find yourself without the legal protection the civil marriage laws provide: inheritance rights, government benefits like Social Security and Medicare, wrongful death benefits for the surviving partner, medical decisions on a partner's behalf in the event of illness _ to mention but a few.

The so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" narrows the protection provided by Article IV. Has Congress the power to limit a constitutional guarantee? Doubtful.

The proposed law discriminates at the most personal level. Not unlike the days when interracial marriages were performed in some states but not recognized in others.

Why would Congress want to erect a barbed wire fence between two people who are in love and are committed to a long-term relationship?

It is human to long for love and a relationship to which we feel thoroughly and deeply committed. It is human to need a special someone to help us through those troubling times that come so often during a lifetime. It is human to want to stabilize such a relationship with marriage.

Why would Congress want to deny anyone the right to the solace of a loving partner in a good marriage?

Why should Congress discriminate against anyone because of homosexual preference? To paraphrase Shakespeare: Hath not a gay or lesbian eyes? Hath not a gay or lesbian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Do they not bleed?

Sadly, the recent anti-gay rhetoric has so demonized homosexuals that some thoughtless people no longer see them as human.

And this legislative attempt to institutionalize bigotry will blow a hot wind over the already flaming rhetoric against gays and lesbians.

Introducing this bill is a mean-spirited action on the part of its sponsors. It demeans them, and Congress.

Charles Levendosky is the editorial page editor for the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune.

Casper Star-Tribune