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Is DOMA Headed to Congress?

By Charlotte Robinson, February 25, 2011
Exclusive Audio Chat with Richard Emmanuel
Visionary & Gay Activist on the truth about our

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Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley praised
the Obama administration's decision Wednesday to not appeal
the unconstitutionality DOMA Section 3 calling it an "important
victory" for same-gender couples. Coakley said the decision
affirms Massachusetts' first-in-the-nation push to allow gay
couples to marry. She said the decision will help ensure that all
married couples enjoy the same rights & benefits under the law.
However, Coakley cautioned that the letter by U.S. Attorney
General Eric Holder leaves open the possibility that Congress
could decide on its own to continue to defend the law in court.
In the letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Holder said the
law was constitutionally indefensible because it violates the
equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment. There was a
March 1st hearing before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
scheduled. That hearing was to give the court the chance to
hear the Dept. of Justice's appeal of an earlier ruling by a single
federal judge who sided with the state. It's expected that the
court will postpone that hearing until it becomes clear whether
Congress will seek to continue the case. Updates to Come…:)
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1 comment:

Mary Bonauto said...

The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it will not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in two challenges pending in the District Courts within the jurisdiction of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, including GLAD’s case Pedersen v. O.P.M. in District Court in Connecticut.

It is extraordinarily significant that the Dept. of Justice recognizes what we have been saying for years in our litigation. Laws that distinguish between people based on sexual orientation are more likely to reflect prejudice against gay people than good public policy. Discrimination based on sexual orientation needs to be justified by the government with exceptionally good reasons rather than being assumed to be permissible. The Attorney General concedes that DOMA fails this test.

This is a welcome acknowledgment but is not the end of GLAD’s DOMA litigation. Ultimately, the courts will decide the standard of review. Moreover, the Attorney General notified Congress that it will not defend the Second Circuit cases and either chamber may step in and appoint counsel to defend DOMA. We are prepared to address head on whatever arguments Congress may make, and bring to an end the harms DOMA imposes on our plaintiff couples and surviving spouses in the litigation and others like them. More information on the litigation and plaintiffs is available at http://www.glad.org/doma

At this time, it is unclear what effect these developments will have in the government’s pending appeal in the First Circuit in Boston of rulings striking down DOMA in cases brought by GLAD and the Massachusetts Attorney General.

The administration will continue to enforce DOMA, and it will remain in effect until the law is either repealed by Congress or finally declared unconstitutional in court.

Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD Civil Rights Project Director

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