William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


Alec Walen


The "Defense of Marriage Act" has defined marriage at the federal level for the purpose of denying recognition to same-sex marriages. It thereby perpetuates the unequal treatment of homosexuals, and does so by denying them a fundamental right-the right to marry. In this Essay, Dr. Walen examines the wide range of justifications offered in Congress for this law. Six categories of argument are assessed: (1) politics and economics, (2) history and tradition, (3) religion, (4) the essential nature of marriage and the family, (5) social.decay, and (6) morality. Walen concludes that none of the justifications prove to be adequate to deny homosexuals equal access to the institution of marriage. In addition, he argues that they point to a moral rigidity that distorts one's perception of what it means to be a homosexual. Walen concludes that this rigidity or authoritarianism produces a form of intolerance incompatible with our professed commitment to political equality and to protecting basic rights and liberties.