I’d call that Act one that was passed with “a strong majority of elected representatives of the people.” After all, that legislation passed both houses of Congress with veto-proof majorities.
But Professor Obama does not even call the Defense of Marriage Act constitutional. Despite its overwhelming passage, Obama calls this act unconstitutional. And he sent his Justice Department into federal court to get it overturned. Meanwhile, without succeeding in that bid, he refuses to defend or enforce a law of Congress.
By his own standards, Prof. Obama’s health care takeover, received a down-to-the-wire passage on the narrowest of partisan bases. It relied on the votes of unelected senators (not to mention highly dubious Cornhusker Kickbacks and a second Louisiana Purchase). By any measure, it was a questionable measure.
If only Barack Obama were to apply his own brave Rose Garden words to the Defense of Marriage Act. If only he would treat this vital legislation the same way he treats his healthcare takeover. He would then be in front of the Supreme Court dramatically defending DOMA himself.
That lopsided Senate vote (85-14) on the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 contains many ironies. Not the least of these is the fact that the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) was one of those misguided few who voted no.
Moynihan’s “no” vote on true marriage was especially tragic given his special sensitivity to the importance of marriage in the black community. Thirty years earlier, young Pat Moynihan had raised an alarm about the breakdown of marriage in his seminal Report on the Negro Family. The out-of-wedlock birthrate for black children in 1965 was then just 22%. Young Pat Moynihan saw this as dangerous. Today, the out-of-wedlock birthrate for the whole nation is 42%.
Young Pat Moynihan was right. Today’s Barack Obama is wrong. If we care about poverty, income mobility, health, education, and welfare, we need to support true marriage. Barack Obama is the most anti-marriage president in our history. Combined with Pat Moynihan’s falling away, that is a double tragedy.