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U.S. House Democrats join fight against DOMA in court

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Saturday, November 5, 2011
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WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and 132 other Democrats on Thursday joined in the fight to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in court by filing a legal brief in support of litigation against the anti-gay law.

Michael Key, Washington Blade

Nancy Pelosi

The friend-of-the court brief was filed in the consolidated case of Gill v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which is pending before the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief was among 11 filed against DOMA in those cases.

House Democrats contend Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional because it harms LGBT families and their children and it undercuts a state’s right to regulate marriage. The brief also contends Congress acted in 1996 without due consideration in passing the law.

“While nearly seventy-five percent of the public opposed marriage for same-sex couples when Congress enacted DOMA, a majority of Americans now support it,” the brief states. “Amici are part of the communities we represent, and our understanding reflects the same arc of experience, making clear what should have been apparent in 1996: the refusal to recognize the legal marriages of a category of our citizens serves no legitimate federal interest.”

House Democrats also argue Congress’ previous enactment of laws against LGBT people, such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” confirms laws targeting this group warrant heightened scrutiny, or should be looked upon with the assumption they’re unconstitutional.

Pelosi as well as other members of House Democratic leadership — House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) — are among the 133 Democrats who signed the brief. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the sponsors of DOMA repeal legislation, was the lead drafter of the brief.

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