The infamous “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), passed by the Republican controlled House & Senate in 1996 as an election year ploy, codifies the non-recognition of same-sex marriage for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, and the filing of joint tax returns. The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law unconstitutional in May of this year. The Obama Administration announced last February that it would no longer defend that law is they also believed it to be unconstitutional. However, the Republican House leaders have been using the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to defend DOMA, and have raised large sums of money to continue defending the law. Ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the law’s constitutionality. Last Tuesday, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, 132 House Democrats filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is discriminatory and unconstitutional. In the brief the 132 Democratic members of Congress argued that DOMA “lacks a rational relationship to any legitimate federal purpose and accordingly is unconstitutional.”
Guess who was Missing In Action? Ron Barber. Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva signed the brief. Arizona Democratic Congressman Ed Pastor signed the brief. Arizona’s 5 Republican Congressmen didn’t sign the brief. And neither did Ron Barber. OK, there are 192 Democratic members of Congress, so that means 60 also didn’t sign the brief. As BuzzFeed explains it:
But 60 Democratic members from across the country, many representing contested districts or relatively conservative regions, did not join the brief. Not signing on to the brief, however, does not necessarily signal support for DOMA. Twenty of the 60, for example, have signed on as co-sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill pending in Congress to repeal DOMA.
OK, at least one-third of Democrats who declined to be a part of the brief stating the obvious – that DOMA is discriminatory and unconstitutional – do support it’s repeal. That would be HR116. the Respect of Marriage Act, which repeals DOMA. It isn’t going anywhere, Republican House Leaders have it boxed up in the Subcommittee on the Constitution and will never let it come up to a vote while they control things. But the Respect for Marriage Act has attracted 151 cosponsors, even including one Republican. But is Ron Barber a cosponsor? Nope. Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva is a cosponsor. Arizona Democratic Congressman Ed Pastor is a cosponsor. Arizona’s 5 Republican Congressmen aren’t cosigners – and neither is Ron Barber.
CD2 Democratic Candidate Matt Heinz has released a statement on Ron Barber’s failure to take a position on this issue:
“The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996 has flagrantly discriminated against the rights of the LGBT community for the last fifteen years. Republicans legislate insufferable sentiments against our community while attempting to legitimize these laws in court. It is inexcusable for Congressman Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) to not stand in solidarity with the 132 House Democrats.
I agree with legal arguments in the House Democrat’s amicus brief that states ‘a driving force behind this law was the desire to disapprove and disadvantage gay and lesbian couples, which is not a legitimate federal interest’. We must have elected representation that will fight against the malicious intent of laws that inflict direct harm on married same-sex couples.
The Defensive of Marriage Act has limited legal defined equality for far too long. Our nation must not tolerate this law any longer. Equality must be achieved among all Americans.”
Ron Barber voted with the Republicans in his first two votes as a Congressman. Now he fails to take a position on an issue that is core to the issue of fairness and equality in our society.
Dr. Matt Heinz is the right choice for our new Congressional District 2.