...it is Section 3 which is especially odious and damaging. Opposite-sex couples receive a whole slew of vital marriage-based benefits and entitlements from the Federal Government which DOMA expressly denies to same-sex couples. As but one particularly glaring example, if an American citizen marries a foreign national of the opposite sex (an increasingly common occurrence), then, under U.S. immigration law, the foreign spouse is entitled, more or less automatically, to receive a Green Card and, if desired, U.S. citizenship, so that American citizens can live in the U.S. together with their spouse.
But if an American citizen marries a foreign national of the same sex, then DOMA bars the INS from recognizing the marriage as a basis for granting immigration rights. As a result of DOMA, American citizens are put in the hideous predicament of having to choose either to (a) live apart from their spouse or (b) live outside their own country. The U.S. now stands virtually alone in the Western World in imposing such a cruel dilemma on its citizens (worse still, many U.S. citizens have same-sex spouses from countries where the U.S. citizen cannot live, due to lack of resources or opportunities or because that country also refuses to grant immigration rights to same-sex couples; in those cases, DOMA means that Americans are forced, with no choice, to live apart -- oceans apart -- from their spouse).
Another example of a privilege that same-sex married couples do not enjoy under federal law is the estate tax marital deduction (as well as other federal tax benefits) but there countless federal privileges that opposite-sex married couples enjoy that same-sex married couples do not. All of this could be undone by a wholesale repeal of DOMA, or at least section 3 (Greenwald argues that repeal of section 2-which permits states to not recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in other states- is unnecessary.) Greenwald argues that this change is politically viable, and I agree (though that doens't mean that it won't make the anti-gay marriage forces crazy.) I also think it's a novel way for Obama to signal his support for gay marriage, both morally and practically. It is my sincerest hope that someone who will shortly be in the Obama administration is reading Greenwald and thinking the same thing.
Nat-Wu here. I'd just like to say that at this time, I can't think of any topic more appropriate for our 3,000th post than the biggest civil rights issue of the day, namely the rights of all Americans to live with and love who they want to. Someday the callous laws passed depriving them of their rights will be seen as just silly. TWM hopes to help bring that around.