This week, as the Supreme Court released its rulings on a variety of different issues, supporters of same-sex marriage were particularly anxious to hear an important piece of news: the Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8.
What is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)?
The Defense of Marriage Act is a federal law that restricts federal marriage rights to opposite-sex couples. It was enacted on September 21, 1996 under the Clinton administration, though Clinton, among others who were involved in the law’s enactment, has since changed his position and advocated for its repeal.
The law’s exact wording on the issue of marriage is as follows:
“In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word `marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” (Defense of Marriage Act)
Among others, these are the benefits that have been denied to same-sex marriages under the Defense of Marriage Act:
- Insurance benefits for government employees
- Social Security survivors’ benefits
- Immigration benefits
- Joint tax return benefits
What is Prop. 8?
Prop. 8, or California Proposition 8, is a ballot proposition passed in California’s November 2008 elections. Much like DOMA, it declares that only opposite-sex marriages may be recognized by the state of California. The proposition effectively overturns a California Supreme Court ruling released in May of 2008 that found marriage to be a fundamental constitutional right that should be granted to all couples. The timeline of same-sex marriage history in California is shown below:
The National Archives houses our nation’s most important records including “[a]ll archives or records” of the U.S. Government, legislative, executive, or judicial” documents as well as “motion-picture films and sound recordings illustrative of historical activities of the United States.”
If you had to guess how old such an important administration would be, what would you say? 200 years? More?
Nope. On June 19th of this year, the institution turned just seventy-nine years old.
Proving that government has long moved at the speed of a handicapped slug, it took until the early twentieth century for legislators to think, “Hmmmm…. perhaps we need an official location for our treasured, important documents,” and establish the National Archives.
A historian named J. Franklin Jameson took up the cause of promoting such a facility in 1908. Eighteen years later, in 1926, he finally raised enough money to fund construction of the National Archives. And then it took another eight years for legislation to come to Capitol Hill (by which time the building was already under construction). President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone in 1933, just a couple weeks before Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office.
And then things stalled again.
FDR was perhaps understandably distracted by the enormous problems of the Great Depression. He waited another three months to enact legislation naming an archivist. The job finally went to a professor of history from North Carolina, R.D.W. Connor, at a salary of $10,000 per year.
What sort of historically important documents are housed at the National Archives?
- The Declaration of Independence
- The Articles of Confederation
- The Constitution
- The Bill of Rights
- The Louisiana Purchase
- The Emancipation Proclamation
Just to name a few. You can few the entire list and see image of the documents at the National Archives Home Page here.
Isaac Newton… Scientist Extraordinaire. Figured out the laws of physics and composed the law of universal gravitation. Designed an Orbital Cannon, a thought experiment about a super weapon that, given enough gunpowder, could knock the Earth off its orbit. Newton, who composed the Three Laws of Motion.
Newton, the Father of Calculus… defeated by… you guessed it… A CAT.
Nothing throws off your deep thought process quite like this:
Surely, the man who vastly improved the telescope could solve this simple problem!
If you think this, you surely have never met a Determined Feline.
Like Nerds Immemorial, Newton was a single guy. No marriages, no girlfriends. But he did have cats; cats who care nothing about scientific inquiry, unless it is a careful gauging of how much food is left in the feeder before Panic and Rioting should ensue (answer: Let X = Anything below 1/2 of the dispenser). Cats who want in. Cats who want out. Cats who want to stand in the middle of the threshold, making up their minds.
Legend has it that one day, Newton had had enough of scratch-scratch-scratch-MEOW-Scratch-SCratch-SCRatch-SCRATCH and called a carpenter to his home. Newton asked for two holes to be cut in his front door, a large one for his mama cat and a little hole for her kittens. Newton, whose Westminster Abbey tombstone declares that “there has existed such and so great an ornament of the human race,” nonetheless could not figure out that the second hole for the little ones was superfluous. The kittens, of course, just followed their mother through the larger hole.
Is the story true? According to a contemporary of Newton’s, it is “indisputably true…that there are in the door to this day two plugged holes of proper dimensions for the respective egresses of cat and kitten.”