Entries from: DOMA

Victory Fund lauds DOMA ruling, calls for action in 38 states

flag scotusChuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, issued the following statement today regarding the U.S Supreme Court’s landmark decision that gutted the Defense of Marriage Act and brought federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples:

“This outcome was predicted by legal experts, but it’s still a remarkable and hopeful moment. And while the ruling doesn’t extend marriage equality to any other states, it does mean that when we finally win there too, those wins will be even sweeter.

I’m proud that openly LGBT elected officials led fights in states that today recognize our marriages. They have been crucial to building the bridges to equality that their straight colleagues cross.

Now we must begin to change the hearts and minds of voters, lawmakers and political leaders in the 38 states that still forbid gays and lesbians to marry. That will take the work of the fantastic coalitions that have seen much success in recent years, and it will require electing more LGBT people to change legislatures from the inside.

Today we owe a hearty thank-you to the legal team that won a huge victory for Edie Windsor and same-sex couples across the country. The American Civil Liberties Union had a lot of help from some of our movement’s most dedicated and impressive legal minds, and all of them have worked hard on cases that brought us to this moment.”

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund Victory is a nonpartisan organization that helps outstanding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) leaders win elections and serve successfully.  For more information, visit www.victoryfund.org.

DOMA struck down by federal appeals court

gavel_236x236The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston today affirmed a lower federal court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally discriminates against legally married same-sex couples.  The court also stayed its decision in anticipation of a final ruling on the matter by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In its ruling, the court said moral disapproval of homosexuality was not a constitutionally valid reason for the law.  Additionally, Congress could not show that passage of DOMA would protect or advantage heterosexual marriage, which was one of its stated reasons for enacting the legislation, the court said:

Although the House Report is filled with encomia to heterosexual marriage, DOMA does not increase benefits to opposite-sex couples–whose marriages may in any event be childless, unstable or both–or explain how denying benefits to same-sex couples will reinforce heterosexual marriage. Certainly, the denial will not affect the gender choices of those seeking marriage. This is not merely a matter of poor fit of remedy to perceived problem…, but a lack of any demonstrated connection between DOMA’s treatment of same-sex couples and its asserted goal of strengthening the bonds and benefits to society of heterosexual marriage.

DOMA found unconstitutional again

gavelThe federal Defense of Marriage Act was dealt another legal blow today in a federal district court in California.  Judge Jeffrey White ruled that using DOMA to deny a federal employee the right to enroll her same-sex spouse as a dependent on her health plan violates the U.S. Constitution.

The court found that DOMA “violates her right to equal protection of the law under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution by, without substantial justification or rational basis, refusing to recognize her lawful marriage to prevent provision of health insurance coverage to her spouse.”

The ruling is a setback for Congressional lawyers who are defending DOMA now that the law is not being defended by the Justice Department or the Obama administration, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the effort a waste of money.

“In rejecting the arguments of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, the court’s ruling also reaffirmed a core belief of the majority of House Democrats: that the House is not united in this case; that the BLAG lawyers do not speak for Congress; and that BLAG’s intervention remains a waste of taxpayer resources.  The court made it clear that there is no legitimate federal interest in denying married gay and lesbian couples the legal security, rights, and responsibilities guaranteed to all married couples under state law,” Pelosi said in a statement.

The constitutionality of DOMA is under legal attack across the U.S., with cases pending in several federal district and appellate courts.  Read more about this case at Metro Weekly.

Did Boehner break the law in defending DOMA?

BoehnerA Washington, D.C., ethics watchdog group has filed an official ethics complaint against House Speaker John Boehner, accusing him of breaking federal law in committing hundreds of thousands of dollars to a legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, according to the Hill:

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed the complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) on Tuesday, writing that Boehner violated the Antideficiency Act by retaining the services of Bancroft PLLC to continue defending at least 10 legal cases.

The 12-page complaint also states that by breaking the federal law Boehner allegedly violated House rules by failing to “uphold the Constitution, laws, and legal regulations of the United States and all governments therein and never be a party to their evasion.”

A spokesman for Boehner said the complaint was unfounded and called it “off-base and stupid” because it makes CREW look like it is targeting a Republican.

House leaders earlier this year retained a law firm to defend DOMA after President Barack Obama and the Department of Justice said they would no longer defend the law because they believed it be unconstitutional.  Federal judges have agreed.

DOMA, enacted in 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, defines marriage for federal purposes as being only between one man and woman.  It prevents legally married same-sex couples in places like Massachusetts and Iowa from enjoying any of the federal benefits available to other married couples.

DOMA author, now foe, to speak at Log Cabin convention

51936730Former Congressman Bob Barr, a Republican-turned-Libertarian who authored the Defense of Marriage Act some 15 years ago, has since come out for repealing the law.

After leaving office in 2003, Barr concluded the measure impedes on the right of states to determine their own course on marriage.  He will likely expound on that thinking when he addresses the Log Cabin Republicans national convention in Dallas in late April.

Barr is “living proof that Republicans are becoming more inclusive, and doing so for conservative reasons,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin’s executive director, in a Washington Blade article:

Barr served as a Republican congressman representing Georgia in the U.S. House from 1995 to 2003. Following his retirement from Congress, Barr left the GOP and joined the Libertarian Party. In 2008, Barr was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president, but captured less than 1 percent of the popular vote during the election.

In addition to coming out for repeal of DOMA, Barr in 2003 testified before Congress against the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have made a ban on same-sex marriage part of the U.S. Constitution. The measure failed to pass in Congress in 2004 and 2006.

According to Log Cabin, other guests at the national convention are set to include FOX News contributor Margaret Hoover and gay former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.