PA State Rep. Brian Sims On What Will Happen If DOMA Is Overturned

"Chaos in the legal system is good for the LGBTQ community."

Earlier, I chatted with Mazzoni Center legal expert David Rosenblum about what the repeal of DOMA could mean for gay couples living in Philadelphia. His opinion was that striking it down wouldn’t have immediate effects, but it could inspire changes in our favor down the road. Pennsylvania Representative and Brian Sims agrees, but he offers an interesting take that gets to the bottom of how those changes could actually go in to effect.

“More likely than not,” he says,” the Supreme Court will shoot down the provision that only allows benefits to straight married couples,” but that could create all sorts of havoc. Consider this:

A gay married couple living in Massachusetts — who’s been enjoying all their post-DOMA-repealed benefits — decides they want to move to one of the 31 states that has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.” The distinction may seem slight, but is an important legal distinction to note nonetheless. Does that mean they’d be stripped of the federal rights they were allowed in Massachusetts? Or will there be “special laws” that say if you’re gay-married in one state you can move to another that doesn’t allow gay marriage and still reap your federal rights? If so, wouldn’t that mean that a couple living in Philly could get married in Massachusetts and “move” back to Philadelphia with their federal rights in tow? It sounds super complicated, huh? Sims thinks the messiness is ” a really, really good thing.”

“If DOMA is struck down, those states will technically have to recognize laws in [marriage-equality] states. And if those states are forced to recognize marriages in other states you’re going to have a bunch of disparities in other circuits and … the Supreme Court will be forced to revisit it in three or four years. If nothing else it’s going to create a lot of confusion, and chaos in the legal system is good for the LGBTQ community. It will force decisions that are founded in law, and when those decisions come down they tend to be in favor of LGBTQ equality.”

This is getting good …