Did DOMA forestall a constitutional amendment? I’d never thought of this angle and not sure I buy it. But an interesting point.
From TPM Reader VF …
A very good but complicated question.
Recall that during the debates in the early 2000s over whether there should be a federal marriage amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, Democrats routinely argued against it NOT on discriminatory grounds but rather that DOMA made the amendment unnecessary. i.e. Alabama has nothing to fear since DOMA won’t force them to recognize Massachusetts gay marriages.
I can only imagine the intense pressure for a FMA in 2003 or 2004 if, absent DOMA, every state was forced to accept gay marriages performed in Massachusetts.
I still think it was probably wrong to enshrine that discrimation into law, but we should acknowledge that without DOMA, the chances of a marriage constitutional amendment would have been at least somewhat higher. Perhaps there would have been enough Democrats in the Senate to be bold and stand up to that even in an election year like 2004. But maybe not. And that would be a real pain to repeal given that you’d need 38 states to go along and undo it.
On the other hand, perhaps without the stigma of DOMA and if red states were forced to acclimate to same sex marriage and realize it wasn’t so bad, we’d have moved even faster towards tolerance. We can’t know.