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Thursday
Apr072011

A Nation of Laws- or of Men?

I am an American, born in Egypt. I have traveled to most of the countries in the world, and all of my travels have only increased my love for my adopted homeland. Of all the things I love about America, one of the most significant is the fact that ours is a nation of laws, not of men.

 We elect legislators to enact laws on our behalf. We elect the president to carry out those laws. The president appoints—and the Senate confirms—judges to interpret those laws. According to the Constitution, our republic is governed by the law, not by the whims and personal opinions of men.

 But that's not how our government functions today. Unfortunately, our president has assumed Caesar-like power to decide which laws are constitutional and which laws shall be left to wither and blow away on the shifting winds of political correctness.

 On February 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that, at the direction of President Obama, the Department of Justice would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. The heart of DOMA is Section 3, which 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." DOMA ensures that no state will be required to recognize as "marriage" a same-sex union created by another state.

 By unilaterally declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, President Obama has jabbed his thumb in the eye of the Congress, the courts, the Constitution, and the American people. He has imposed his will on the nation in defiance of the will of the people.

 DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. Congress passed DOMA with overwhelming, bipartisan majorities—342 to 67 in the House of Representatives, 85 to 14 in the Senate. It has survived constitutional tests in nine circuit courts of appeal and many lower courts. Thirty states have passed DOMA-like laws or amendments affirming that marriage is a union of one man and one woman.

 It's clear that the American people want to defend marriage from being redefined by activist judges—but President Obama has overruled the people. He has barged into the domain of the other two branches of government and has seized the power to decide which laws shall be deemed constitutional.

 The president of the United States is required by his oath of office and the Constitution itself to enforce the laws of the United States—not declare laws to be unconstitutional. Instead of respecting the wisdom of the other two branches of government, he has usurped their authority.

 Mr. Obama's views on the Defense of Marriage Act have shifted back and forth over the years, depending on whose vote he was courting. He supported DOMA in a speech to the Independent Voters of Illinois during his 2004 Senate primary race—but switched to an anti-DOMA position just weeks before the election. In 2008, while campaigning for president, he attacked DOMA, saying that the law "[discriminated] against gay and lesbian couples." Later that same year, however, he told Rick Warren at the Saddleback Presidential Forum, "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman."

 Now, on the basis of his latest whim, he has decided to leave DOMA defenseless in the courts. So what happens to DOMA now?

 If the government does not defend this law in court, gay activists will probably achieve their goal of nullifying the Defense of Marriage Act. As a result, every state in the union will be forced to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. If you live in Iowa or Texas, you'll be forced to obey the laws of California and Massachusetts regarding same-sex marriage.

 When President Obama commandeers the powers of the other branches of government, he undermines respect for the law. When the people see their own government flouting the law and ignoring the will of the majority, the people lose respect for the law. The result is increasing cynicism, lawlessness, and social chaos.

 Last month, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced plans to hire a special counsel to defend DOMA in the courts, doing the job our president and the Justice Department refuse to do. I pray their efforts succeed!

 But we are left to wonder: What law will our imperial president decide to overrule next?