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Obama administration urges U.S. Supreme Court to strike down DOMA

'Gay and lesbian people have been subject to a significant history of discrimination in this country'
Friday, February 22, 2013

The Obama administration on Friday filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing why it considers the federal Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional.

Filed in United States v. Windsor, a case challenging Section 3 of DOMA, the administration said “gay and lesbian people have been subject to a significant history of discrimination in this country,” and argued that laws targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation should face additional scrutiny by courts reviewing them.

In the brief, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli asked the court to uphold a federal appeals court ruling that found DOMA to be unconstitutional:

Section 3 of DOMA violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection. The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples. Because this discrimination cannot be justified as substantially furthering any important governmental interest, Section 3 is unconstitutional.

This case deals with Edith Windsor, who was forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes in 2009 upon the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer. The two had lived as a couple for 44 years and married in Canada in 2007. Because her decades-long partner was a woman, the federal government did not recognize the same-sex marriage in legal terms, even though their home state of New York did.

Section 3 of DOMA, which bars legally married same-sex couples from any federal benefits or programs based on marriage, has been found unconstitutional in eight federal courts, including the First and Second Circuit Court of Appeals, on issues including bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes, and immigration.

The brief also mentions Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and similar measures in other states as evidence of continued discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Briefs were also filed on the question of whether the Court has the authority to decide the case — one of those was from the administration and another from Republican leaders of the House of Representatives.

In the separate Administration brief, also filed Friday in the Windsor case, the government’s lawyers argued that their appeal challenging the constitutionality of DOMA is properly before the Court, and thus can be decided in that case, reported SCOTUS Blog.

In the other brief, GOP members of the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group argued that it has a right under the Constitution’s Article III to be in court to support the law’s validity, because the administration has stopped defending the law and instead is “attacking” it.

Oral arguments in the case, United States v. Windsor, have been scheduled for March 27.

Earlier this week, the Obama administration was said to also be considering urging the Court to overturn Proposition 8, but has yet to take a position in that case. The Court will hear arguments in that case on March 26.

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24 more reader comments:

  1. good.

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:40pm
  2. A Mitt Romney White House would NEVER have done this. Good for our President. Come on, SCOTUS…It’s blatantly clear: DOMA is Unconstitutional. Strike it DOWN NOW.

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:41pm
  3. Love!

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:42pm
  4. Thank you, Mr. President!!

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:44pm
  5. Good, good good!

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:44pm
  6. I liked Clinton, but even if he was pressured he should have NEVER signed this or the don’t ask don’t tell

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:45pm
  7. Amen!

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 6:07pm
  8. Awesome, it was Republican’s who backed Clinton into a corner on the DOMA law. I don’t believe Clinton really wanted to sign it.

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 6:07pm
  9. Thank you, President Obama! We appreciate you!

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 6:27pm
  10. Gary Rainey: i agree with you….he even supported the REPEAL of DADT…as did colin powell…..i believe, that

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 6:56pm
  11. that’s what happened with “NAFTA & GATE” (sp?); he was FORCED to sign that as well….meaning clinton.

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 6:57pm
  12. good day

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 7:04pm
  13. is is unconstitutional. get rid o that shit. also n.c. you’re on notice.

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 7:22pm
  14. So, Prop8 is the case that needs a brief, every scholar on the planet says DOMA is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 8:57pm
  15. Atta Boy … HE’s stayin busy!!1 That’s our Prez!

    Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 10:07pm
  16. thank you

    Posted on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 4:14pm
  17. DOMA is bs…

    Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 12:37pm
  18. DOMA is discrimination

    Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 12:41pm
  19. This unjust, unconstitutional act should struck off the books. Its funny how a party (republican) preaches small government, is really big in our private lives.

    Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 12:43pm
  20. what sort of sacred marriage institution are they protecting? the kind where they cheat on each other, the type where they abuse their own children ? or the type where they can get divorced and remarried as many times as they want with nobody batting an eyelash?

    Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 12:51pm
  21. DOMA = Discrimination Of Many Americans.

    Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 12:56pm
  22. Thank you Mr. President!

    Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 12:58pm
  23. So here is a dumb question, IF DOMA is struck down, what does that mean exactly?? Is it what I think it means?

    Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 1:19pm
  24. It means Gay marriage is equal again NO MORE MARRIAGE RESTRICTIONS! W00T!

    Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 2:42pm