- Ada, Oklahoma

April 2, 2013

Health care, guns, DOMA on Tom Coburn's radar in Ada

Eric Swanson Staff Writer
The Ada News

Ada —

One of the chief backers of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) reaffirmed his support Monday for the federal law banning same-sex marriage.

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn said he does not believe that Oklahoma should be required to honor any marriage that the state does not recognize as legal.

“Number two, I believe marriage is a foundational institution that civil society is based on,” he said during a town hall meeting at East Central University. “It’s between a man and a woman and nobody else.”

The Oklahoma Republican was one of the co-sponsors of DOMA when Congress passed the bill and sent it to then-President Bill Clinton, who signed it into law. The 1996 law says marriage is between a man and a woman, and it bars federal agencies from recognizing same-sex marriages in states where they are legal.

Under the law, same-sex couples in states where their marriage is legal receive state and local marriage benefits, but they cannot receive federal benefits.

DOMA returned to the national spotlight last week, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases about same-sex marriage. The first case involved a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, a voter-approved ban on same--sex marriages in that state. 

The second case centered on whether DOMA violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling before the term ends in June.

Coburn did not comment specifically on the court cases during the town hall meeting, but he did assert his support for traditional marriage.

“I believe a marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that is an institution of civil society of which children and society as a whole has benefited markedly,” he said.

Same-sex marriage wasn’t the only item on the agenda. Coburn fielded questions from the audience on a variety of issues, including gun control, Medicare reform and immigration.

• On gun control: Coburn said he thought Congress could figure out a way to block gun sales to criminals without infringing on Americans’ Second Amendment right to carry weapons.

“I don’t think it’s wrong for me not to want to sell my gun to a felon — right? Everybody agree with that? — and I don’t think I want to sell my gun to somebody that’s mentally impaired,” he said. “So if we can fix that, where it’s easy for me as a gun owner to know I’m not selling my gun to a felon or somebody that’s mentally impaired with no records kept, I have no problem with trying to do that. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last three months.”

But he said he would vote against any measure allowing the federal government to keep track of who owns guns.

• On Medicare reform: Coburn said Americans will spend about $2.5 trillion on medical care this year, but about $850 billion of that amount doesn’t help anybody.

“So one out of three dollars that we’re spending on health care isn’t keeping you from getting sick or making you better — getting well,” he said. “That’s the real problem.” Coburn said the American health care system would be more efficient if it relied on transparent results and costs, and if it allowed market forces to work.

• Immigration: Coburn said if America does not have enough candidates for certain jobs, it should allow high-skilled immigrants to fill those positions.

“i think common sense says that you give visas to people who want to work here, want to be part of us, when there’s nobody else that can fill that job,” he said. “I don’t see anything wrong with that.”