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:
Some information for students (from a fellow student) to keep you up to date with this complicated current affair.
There’s been a lot of talk going around about Edward Snowden and his disclosure of NSA information, but with the amount of commentary in the media, it’s difficult to figure out even some basic information. The purpose of this post is to answer some of the basic questions revolving around Snowden and the NSA.
Who is Edward Snowden?
Born on June 21, 1983 in Wilmington, North Carolina, Edward Joseph Snowden is soon to be thirty years old. He studied computing at Anne Arundel Community College, but illness left him unable to complete his coursework, leaving him without a high school diploma until the later completion of his GED. In 2011, he participated in an online program, working towards a Masters Degree with the University of Liverpool. Seven years earlier, in 2004, Snowden had enlisted in the US Army as a Special Forces recruit, but according to his own reports, was discharged four months later after breaking both his legs in a training accident.
Snowden’s former positions include (in the order he held them):
· Working for the NSA, he was a security guard for the Center for the Advanced Study of Language, a covert center.
· He worked for the CIA in IT Security.
· According to his own reports, the CIA placed Snowden in Geneva under diplomatic cover in 2007, where he oversaw network security.
· He reports leaving the CIA to work for a private contractor inside a US military base in Japan for the NSA.
· Until recently, Snowden held a position as a system administrator inside the NSA for consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii. He held this position for under three months and was fired on June 10th after his media disclosures.
What did Snowden disclose?
Through the disclosure of documents and an arranged meeting in Hong Kong with reporter Glen Greenwald, of The Guardian, and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, Snowden revealed the following pieces of information: