To the editor:
In 1996, President Clinton signed into law DOMA - Defense of Marriage Act - which, for federal purposes, defined marriage as a male-female union. In the recent case of U.S. v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court held that DOMA was unconstitutional in violation of the equal protection clause of our Constitution. Twelve states had previously conferred a lawful status upon same-sex couples. The court said that states possess full power over the subject of marriage and divorce and our Constitution delegated no authority to the federal government on the subject of marriage and divorce. That decision reinforces the separation between federal and state responsibilities with respect to lawmaking. In other words, domestic relations are an area that is regarded as the virtually exclusive province of the states. Therefore, states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states as being valid in their state. There is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
As you may recall, in 2011 U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder decided that he would not enforce DOMA. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of our country whose job and duty is to enforce laws passed by Congress. Recall how AG Holder also refused to enforce immigration laws? Similarly, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, chief law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania, recently decided she will not defend our DOMA-type law in a recent lawsuit. AG Kane said she cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's version of DOMA where she believes it to be wholly unconstitutional. Many critics feel she should just do her job. It is the Attorney General's responsibility to defend the laws of our Commonwealth regardless of her personal feelings. Others were quite surprised that the AG, contrary to her constitutional duty, decided not to defend a Pennsylvania statute lawfully enacted by the General Assembly, merely because of her personal beliefs.
The question in my mind is if political beliefs are the standard for law enforcement, what will she ignore next? What is the difference if I, as District Attorney, were to decide we should not enforce income tax laws in Mifflin County? Or not enforce speeding tickets? Or not enforce DUI or marijuana laws? Politics should not be the basis for these decisions. I truly believe that we need to return to the basics of our Constitution.
Mifflin County District Attorney