The DOMA Ruling Benefits Straight Women, Too


Last Thursday marked not only an enormous milestone in the gay rights movement, but a remarkable date in American history: the Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act, otherwise known as DOMA, was shot down by the Supreme Court. Although this certainly helps LGBT women, it also enormously benefits heterosexual women.

According to the Supreme Court’s official syllabus, Section Three defines marriage as a union strictly between two people of opposite genders, or rather, a man and a woman. Now that this has been declared unjust, denying LGBT couples the right to marry is unconstitutional. Often, some Americans, maybe even those that are allies of their LGBT friends, immediately identify such a success as “a gay victory,” instead of “a victory.” Whether it’s intentional or not, the semantics divide a gay victory from a simple victory, and furthermore, the gay rights movement separated from reform of basic civil rights. As the fight for equality continues to win, the gay rights movement becomes essential and vital to the well being of the millennial generation in terms of social justice. The defeat of DOMA signifies change not only within the LGBT community, but also for all Americans.

LGBT women benefit from the shut down of DOMA for obvious reasons, but why, in particular, straight women? Now, more than ever, American civil rights are constantly challenged. It’s not just about gay marriage, but reconstructing predispositions on gender and challenging traditional legislation on human rights.

A recent article by Pundit Murray Lipp points out straight people benefit from gay marriage because it promotes equality, captivates the well-being of LGBT individuals, accepts the concept of gay parenthood, boasts the wedding industry, truly embraces religious freedom, begins to dissemble the cultural “liberal versus conservative” stances on marriage equality, and gives the United States a good reputation abroad.

Another positive of gay marriage is the potential to deconstruct American patriarchy through challenging gender roles. For instance, if two individuals of the same-sex marry, neither partner is obligated to fulfill social roles according to his or her masculinity or femininity. For instance, the man doesn’t immediately assume the title of the breadwinner, because there may be two men or none at all; the woman no longer instantly becomes the one that stays at home, because there may be two women or none at all! 

In a blog post by a women's history scholar, gay marriage does affect traditional marriage — or “marriage as we know it.” However, this isn’t a bad thing to change. In traditional marriage, the wife tends to the household (often that includes children) while the husband clocks in a 40-something or more workweek. Inevitably, as mentioned before, the breadwinner and one that stays home becomes unisex, because there is one gender within the relationship instead of two.

Straight women, and not only the LGBT community, can benefit from re-evaluation of DOMA. The ruling challenges "marriage as we know it" in terms of traditional gender roles, because of the presence of masculinity or femininity, or lack thereof.