Main | Friday, January 14, 2011

DOJ Files DOMA Defense

The Department of Justice yesterday filed its defense of the overturn of Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was ruled unconstitutional last July in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States.

A quote from the government's brief comes via Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly:
DOMA is supported by rationales that constitute a sufficient rational basis for the law. For example, as explained below, it is supported by an interest in maintaining the status quo and uniformity on the federal level, and preserving room for the development of policy in the states. When DOMA was enacted, the institution of marriage had long been understood as a formal relationship between a man and a woman, and state and federal law had been built on that understanding. But our society is evolving, and as is well-established, the “science of government . . . is the science of experiment.” Over the years, the prevailing concept of marriage has been challenged as unfair to a significant element of the population. Recently there has been a growing recognition that the prevailing regime is harmful to gay and lesbian members of our society.
Rather tepid, eh? Richard Socarides of the newly-formed Equality Matters responds.
"There are some improvements in tone in the brief, but the bottom line is the government continues to oppose full equality for its gay citizens. And that is unacceptable. The administration claims that it has a duty to defend the laws that are on the books. We simply do not agree. At the very least, the Justice Department can and should acknowledge that the law is unconstitutional."
And from GLAD, who won the case, we get this response via press release.
The government’s appeal follows a decision issued on July 8, 2010 by federal District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro in favor of GLAD’s plaintiffs, seven married couples and three widowers, who have been denied access to federal programs because of DOMA. In that decision, Judge Tauro concluded that DOMA is unconstitutional. “We see nothing really new in this brief, which reiterates many of the same arguments the government made in the District Court,” said Mary L. Bonauto, who is leading the DOMA team for GLAD. “We’re prepared to meet these arguments head-on, and bring to an end the discrimination that is suffered by married same-sex couples like our plaintiffs and that DOJ has admitted is caused by DOMA.”

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