States legalizing same-sex marriage and marijuana now face battle with Feds

Wed. November 7, 2012 2:51 PM by Jay Shaff

The commonality is defiance of federal laws

Chicago, IL - Tuesday, voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington approved same-sex marriage; in Colorado and Washington they legalized recreational marijuana. The problem? In both instances it violates federal law and rules.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996 by Congress and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton, came about after fear that Hawaii would legalize same-sex marriage, long before the nation would embrace such an adjustment. DOMA defines marriage as between and man and a woman. Attitudes about same-sex marriage have changed dramatically in the last sixteen years and current polling suggests the more than 50% of Americans approve of the unions. Recent Federal Court rulings have declared DOMA to be unconstitutional, but there are further appeals available which will ultimately put the controversy in the Supreme Court before a final resolution is determined. It could be a long path before it is all ironed out.

Although DOMA seems to be on the way out the door via the courts, currently married same-sex couples, while endorsed by the state they live in, will be denied marriage benefits from social security, estate taxes and federal pensions.

Through the passage of the Marihuana (not a spelling error) Tax Act of 1937, which was designed to protect the oil and nylon industry, cannabis was essentially banned from the United States. Even though not a narcotic, with political maneuvering marijuana was added to the scheduled drug list by the then Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Although the agencies have changed names and purposes over the years, marijuana continues to be illegal in the eyes of the U.S. government.

The Feds have made it clear that they will continue to enforce their marijuana rules, regardless of the new state laws.

These states voters have challenged the standing of federal laws and created an environment where an act in a particular state may be legal, but a person or persons could be subject to federal penalty and prosecution.

The bottom line? More court battles are looming for both marriage and marijuana.

Oregon also had recreational marijuana legalization measure on the ballot, but it failed.

A measure in Minnesota to outlaw gay marriage was defeated. In Iowa, a witch hunt to unseat one of the Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage a few years ago also failed.