Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 09th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Town Hall with Rep. Sam Farr

SamFarrNewIn light of the president coming out in support of same-sex marriage and the recent ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1st Circuit Court, where do you think this issue is heading? Where do you stand?

Sixteen years ago, I voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because it was an affront on one of our most basic civil rights—the right to equal access and equal protection of the law. 

I was one of the few members of Congress who took that tough stance in the face of negative public opinion because it was the right thing to do. In addition, I had strong misgivings that the law could survive a challenge in the courts. 

This belief that was recently affirmed by a U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down Section 3 of the law—the section that defines marriage as only between one man and one woman. In New York last week, another federal judge also ruled that Section 3 violated an individual’s constitutional rights, becoming the fifth federal court to do so.

Here in California, in our state’s own struggle for marriage equality, the U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals reaffirmed the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 by refusing to hear an appeal of an earlier ruling.  

These are not just “liberal activist judges” bent on legislating from the bench, as the right would want us to believe. For instance, the three judge panel for the 1st Circuit case included two Republican appointees. No, these are not activist judges but instead reasoned jurists who are properly interpreting the Constitution.

When DOMA was signed into law in 1996, all 50 states and the District of Columbia recognized marriage as between a man and woman only. Today, eight states and the District of Columbia recognize either same-sex marriage or civil unions. With public opinion tilting ever toward tolerance, and the majority of Americans now supporting equality in marriage, even more states will eventually follow suit.

Under DOMA, the federal government is barred from recognizing any marriage that is not between a man and a woman, even if that marriage was legally performed in a state that recognizes same-sex unions. This creates numerous legal barriers for same-sex spouses trying to navigate the waters between the federal and state governments.

According to the General Accounting Office, there are 1,138 federal rights, protections and benefits that come with marriage. DOMA denies legally married same-sex couples all of these rights, which are automatically granted to heterosexual couples. This directly violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.

For that reason, the Obama Administration, which rightly has come out in support of marriage equality, has decided to no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA. Sadly, the administration must continue to enforce it until the law is repealed. Not wishing to see one of their pet issues disappear, House Republicans have taken up its legal defense.

While many of us in Congress are focused on issues that are important to the American people, like the economy or job creation, the Republican leadership has decided their priorities lie in the protection of this arcane law. And they are spending taxpayer dollars to do it.

House Republicans have written a $742,000 check to an outside law firm tasked with defending DOMA.  This does nothing to help the millions of Americans searching for work but instead only creates employment at one well-connected Washington law firm. That money could be better spent by investing in education and infrastructure to create real jobs for hard-working Americans.

Like the Republican control of the House, the days of marriage inequality are limited. As courts continue to rule against the constitutionality of DOMA and even more states stand up for equal rights, millions of same-sex couples will achieve the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.  

In Congress, I will continue to fight for the rights of all Americans to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation, just as I did in 1996.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Hot in Here

This ain’t no Burning Man—the MAH’s GLOW festival flames on


Mercury Direct in Libra, Columbus Day, Libra New Moon

Mercury completes its retrograde Friday, poised stationary direct Friday evening at zero degrees Libra. Mercury begins its journey through Libra once again, completing its retrograde shadow Oct. 12. Things should be a bit less complicated by then. Daily life works better, plans move forward, large purchases can be made, and communication eases. Everything on hold during the retrograde is slowly released. Since we eliminated all thoughts and ideas no longer needed (the purpose of Mercury’s retrograde) during the retrograde, we can now gather new information—until the next retrograde occurs on Jan. 5, 2016 (1.3 degrees Aquarius), retrograding back to 15 degrees Capricorn on Jan. 25. It’s good to know beforehand when Mercury will retrograde next—Jan. 5, the day before Epiphany. On Monday is Columbus Day, when the sailor from Genoa arrived in the new lands (Americas), Oct. 12, 1492. This discovery by Columbus was the first encounter of Europeans with Native Americans. Other names for this day are “Discovery Day, Day of the Americas, Cultural Diversity Day, Indigenous People’s Day, and Dia de la Raza.” Italian communities especially celebrate this day. Oct. 12 is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Monday is also the (19 degrees) Libra new moon festival. Libra’s keynote while building the personality is, “Let choice be made.” Libra is the sign of making life choices. Often under great tension of opposing forces seeking harmony and balance. There is a battle between our lower (personality) and higher selves (soul). We are tested and called to cultivate right judgment and love. When we align with the will-to-good, right choice, then right judgment and love/wisdom come forth. Our tasks in Libra. 


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of October 9

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Seoul Food

Santa Cruz’s new Sesame Korean is a great introduction to an ancient culinary tradition


Is there evil in the world?

Yes, some people don’t think right because they have been treated badly. Milo Robbins, Scotts Valley, Second Grade


Dos Aguilas Olive Oil

Aptos company is letting locals pick their own olives in October


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist