News (USA)

Obama administration files brief calling DOMA ‘hostile’ toward gay couples

Obama administration files brief calling DOMA ‘hostile’ toward gay couples

The Obama Administration on Friday filed a brief in federal court reaffirming its position that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, calling it hostile toward gay and lesbian couples.

Karen Golinski (right) with wife Mary Cunninghis.

The court brief comes in support of a federal employee who is suing to secure equal benefits for her wife, and comes in response to the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group’s Republican members asking the federal court in San Francisco to dismiss Golinski’s lawsuit.

The Justice Department says Karen Golinski’s suit should not be dismissed because the law under which her spouse was denied benefits — the Defense of Marriage Act — violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.

“The official legislative record makes plain that DOMA Section 3 was motivated in large part by animus toward gay and lesbian individuals and their intimate relationships, and Congress identified no other interest that is materially advanced by Section 3,” the brief reads, referring to the section in the act that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

AP, via the Los Angeles Times

In the brief, the Justice Department acknowledged the U.S. government’s “significant and regrettable role” in discriminating against gays and lesbians.

“Gays and lesbians have suffered a long history of discrimination based on prejudice and stereotypes. That history counsels strongly in favor of heightened scrutiny, giving courts ample reason to question whether sexual orientation classifications are the product of hostility rather than a legitimate government purpose.”

“The Administration’s decision to call DOMA what it is — a law that serves no purpose but to single out a group of people for second-class status — was a watershed moment in the fight for LGBT equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, in a statement.

“Now the federal government has taken that historic stand a step further and put real meat on the bones of why there is no basis for DOMA to stand. This step represents real leadership from the Obama administration and further hastens the day in which we will leave this odious law in the dustbin of history,” he said.

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