Justice Ginsburg's Dairy-Themed DOMA Metaphor

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 27 2013 3:06 PM

Justice Ginsburg's Dairy-Themed DOMA Metaphor, Illustrated

During this morning's Supreme Court hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came up with the pullquote of the day. Ginsburg interrupted Paul Clement, the attorney arguing that DOMA should be upheld, to express her belief that the law creates a two-tiered system of marriage. While Justice Ginsburg is far from the first to make this point, the dairy metaphor she used to illustrate it was truly original [emphasis ours]:

"They [the 1,000-plus benefits offered to married couples under federal law] touch every aspect of life. Your partner is sick. Social Security. I mean, it's pervasive. It's not as though, well, there's this little federal sphere and it's only a tax question. ... And so he was really diminishing what the state has said is marriage. You're saying, no, state marriage [is] the full marriage, and then this sort of skim milk marriage."
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Her remarks, in the immortal words of the official transcript, drew: "(Laughter.)"

In case Justice Ginsburg's prose didn't paint a picture in your head, Slate's art team has got you covered:

SLATEmilkmarriag

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo, and illustration of milk carton and glass by iStockphoto

***Read more from Slate’s coverage of gay marriage cases at the Supreme Court, and follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

Natalie Matthews-Ramo is a Slate Web and interactive designer.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.