No Conceivable Rational Basis

US District Judge Vanessa Bryant ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional yesterday. Judge Bryant is a Bush appointee. Or as the Tea Party now calls it, a liberal activist judge.

According to Judge Bryant, there is "no conceivable rational basis" for the law.

Judge Vanessa Bryant, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that the Section 3 of the 1996 law, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, violates equal protection guarantees. The suit, Pedersen et al v. Office of Personnel Management et al, was brought by six couples and one widower in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont who were denied federal benefits because they were legally married to a spouse of the same sex.

In a striking opinion that exceeded 100 pages, Judge Bryant concluded that, “having considered the purported rational bases proffered by both BLAG and Congress and concluded that such objectives bear no rational relationship to Section 3 of DOMA as a legislative scheme, the Court finds that no conceivable rational basis exists for the provision.

Conservatives jonesing for a swift hearing at the Supreme Court should be careful what they wish for.

I have no doubt the dissenting opinion of Justice Scalia will read like a memo from the American Family Association, but it seems very unlikely to me that the die hard conservatives of the court could eek out a majority to uphold section 3 of the law.

There's simply no logical basis for it. And "ick" is not a legal defense.

  • muselet

    Brava to District Judge Vanessa Bryant. I hope she can handle the death threats that are sure to follow.


  • GrafZeppelin127

    You should read Scalia’s dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 586-605 (2003) (Scalia, J., dissenting). It basically reads as “I have nothing against homosexuality, but…” and goes on to a lengthy rant detailing all the things he has against homosexuality.

    More and more Americans are realizing that there simply is no reason (no sound, rational, logical one, anyway) why couples of consenting adults of the same gender should not have access to the legal/civic status of “married” in the United States. At best, the reasons I have heard and read amount to subjective beliefs about What Marriage Is™, grounded in whatever selected historical or Biblical justifications are convenient for the moment.

    Even if it were true that Marriage Has Always Been Between One Man and One Woman™, that does not logically require the conclusion that it can and must always be only that. Even if [X] has always been [Y], why can we not redefine or reassess [X] to include [Z] in addition to [Y]? I have yet to hear a sound, reasonable, convincing answer to that question. [X] = [Y] does not mean or imply that [X] can only equal [Y].

    The idea that “I’m against gay marriage because I believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” or “because I believe in traditional marriage,” is a non-sequitur. Of course marriage is between a man and a woman; no one is disputing that. Of course “traditional marriage” will continue; it does not need to be “believed in” or “defended” or even advocated. Nothing will happen to “traditional marriage” if we also have this particular variety of “non-traditional marriage.” It will not make the institution or the civic/legal status less accessible to opposite-sex couples, nor change its nature. No one has been able to rationally explain or affirmatively identify the “threat” to “traditional marriage” that same-sex marriage represents.

    Ultimately the question becomes, Why should the civic/legal status of ‘married’ be limited or restricted to opposite-sex couples only? Or, Why should opposite-sex couples have exclusive access to that status? The legal reasoning in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967) is instructive here. The Court essentially found that maintaining the supremacy of the White Race was not a rational basis for limiting access to the civic/legal status of “married” to same-race couples. One would expect that the states, in seeking to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage or an exclusionary definition of marriage for the purpose of marriage licensing, would have to present a rational basis for limiting access to marriage to opposite-sex couples.

    And there simply isn’t one. More and more people, albeit slowly, are realizing that.

    • muselet

      Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Romer v. Evans is likewise a thing to behold. Colorado’s Amendment 2 would have prevented any political entity in the state from taking any legislative, executive or judicial action to recognize gays and lesbians as a protected class. To Scalia, that represented “a modest attempt by seemingly tolerant Coloradans to preserve traditional sexual mores against the efforts of a politically powerful minority to revise those mores through use of the laws.”

      In other words, “gays are icky.”

      Scalia will likewise find DOMA (and California’s Proposition 8) entirely reasonable, as will, I predict, at least three of his colleagues.


  • Draxiar

    “ick is not a legal defense”

    I’m going to be snickering at that all day…thanks for that!