Congress Hears Testimony on the Impact of DOMA's Financial Restrictions on Gay Familes


Caryn Freeman 2:15PM EST
Today's hearing to repeal the Defense of Marraige Act was rehased decade old arguments that the law violates the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens to have equal protection under the law. The fifteen-year-old law that blocks children and spouses of gay unions from receiving federal benefits, including tax deductions for health care premiums faces a new generation of questions regarding legal and ethical questions government involvement in financial protections that apply to hetrosexual couples, such as military spousal benefits and social security payments.
As the first generation of openly gay Americans ages and the second generation begins to start their own families DOMA has created tremendous financial hardships for those seeking the same financial protections afforded to traditional couples.  In opening statements in today’s DOMA hearings Sen. Leahy (D-VT) argued that it is no longer credible to support the view that most Americans disapprove of gay marriage, “it defies common sense to claim that it is necessary to exclude protections of children of same sex marriage to protect the interests of children of married children.”
Accusations has often been levied against members of Congress by gay rights activists that DOMA legislation has been a vehicle for conservative members of Congress to inject there personal and ideological views into legislation relating to same sex marriage and the rights of the gay community as a whole. Sen. Grassley (R-IO) took aim at this accusation and explicitly told witnesses he did not support DOMA to express disapproval of gay and lesbians and said, "I never thought that I would have to ever defend traditional marriage.” Grassley continued his argument by clarifying his support for Federalism but also stated he did not believe that because a state changes their definition of marriage that state should not be able to enforce that view on other states or the federal government.
Sen. Grassley also took aim at a Department of Justice directive that encourages justices to rely on un-passed bills as the rule of law. “Cases require ruling based on current law, not policy preferences, neither an administration nor justices can rely on un-passed bills. There is no legality to an un-passed bill just because it has support of the President,” he said.
Ron Wallen a resident of California told the committee that after a lifetime of being a productive citizen he is now financial chaos and has had to accept that the federal government is throwing him out of his home. “You can fix this by repealing DOMA,” he told the committee.

Thomas Minnery, Senior Vice President for Public Policy for Focus on the Family, whose testimony followed Wallen’s, offered the support of Focus on the Family, “we have resources that help families to live under gods design and live under biblical principles my heart goes out to you and I believe that we have the resources to help you if you will let us,” Minnery said.
Minnnery also made the argument that the rights to federal benefits had not changed with DOMA and that the same legal parameters were in place before DOMA. “This is forced political correctness,” Minnery said.

Sen. Franken (D-MN) also took aim at Minnery’s opening statement. Minnery cited a 2010 Department of Health and Human services study that makes the argument that “children living with their own married biological or adoptive mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier, had better access to health care, less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional and almost never live in poverty, compared with children in any other family form.”

Minnery took it upon himself to define that definition of a nuclear family as one with both a mother and father. The study actually defined a nuclear family as one or more children living with two parents that are married to one another and are each adopted or biological. "I don't know if we can trust the rest of your testimony if your reading studies this way," Sen. Franken explained.

Sen. Franken called DOMA an injustice and a discriminatory law. “The day we repeal DOMA will be a great day in this country.”