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The Defense of Marriage Act's defenders have been trying to claim that the law isn't about bigotry and denying people the right to equality. No, no, see, it's about supporting traditional marriage, and doesn't that just sound a lot nicer? But when Paul Clement, the pro-DOMA lawyer hired by House Republicans, tried to soft-pedal thusly, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wasn't letting it go by unchallenged.
“All these federal statutes were passed with the traditional definition of marriage in mind,” Clement said. “What Congress says is, ‘Let’s take a time out. This is a redefinition of an age-old tradition.’”
Kagan responded that, first of all, DOMA violated another tradition, saying, “The only uniformity that the federal government has pursued is that it’s uniformly recognized the marriages that are recognized by the state.” And, uh, also this:
A short time later, Kagan read aloud from the House Judiciary Committee report on DOMA. “Congress decided to reflect and honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality,” she said, quoting the report.
That wasn't all members of Congress had to say along those lines, either. Rep. Steve Largent (R-OK) wanted Congress to "Look at history. No culture that has ever embraced homosexuality has ever survived." While Rep. Roscoe Bartlett did invoke "traditional marriage," he said that in the context of spouting off about "the decline of moral standards and values."
So, yeah, while Paul Clement claims that that's not the spirit in which he and today's House Republicans are defending the law, it's kinda hard to deny that the intent of passing DOMA was less about a misty appeal to tradition and more about bigotry. Just as Kagan said.
Now if only the Supreme Court would allow video of hearings so we could see these moments in action.
Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 12:30 PM PDT.