Wednesday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow recounted the back and forth verbal sparring between the justices of the Supreme Court at Wednesday’s oral arguments about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 federal law that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. Maddow found much to praise in the performance of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who Maddow congratulated on “winning the day” with her insightful arguments on marriage equality.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opined that under DOMA, there are two kinds of marriages in the U.S., “full marriage and skim milk marriage” in that heterosexual partnerships are granted full status and protection under the law, whereas same sex couples are only recognized in certain states.
Ginsburg also argued against attorney Paul Clement, who was representing Republicans in the House of Representatives and defending DOMA before the court. As Clement attempted to minimize any differences between current law and repealing DOMA, saying that repeal would simply create a “new class of beneficiaries” to soak up government funds.
“Mr. Clement,” Ginsburg replied, “the problem is if we are totally for the states’ decision that there is a marriage between two people, for the federal government then to come in to say no joint return, no marital deduction, no Social Security benefits; your spouse is very sick but you can’t get leave; people — if that set of attributes, one might well ask, what kind of marriage is this?”
“Standing five feet tall, from Brooklyn, New York!” Maddow crowed like a boxing announcer, “Appointed by President Bill Clinton, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg frankly kind of winning the day today by christening this particular variety of second-class American citizenship as ‘skim-milk marriage,’ which is what it forever will be known as now.”
Watch the video, embedded via MSNBC, below: