132 Representatives in Congress officially oppose DOMA


By Anna Peirano

Today, 132 members of the House of Representatives have signed an amicus brief opposing the Defense of Marriage Act, reports Freedom to Marry.

Signees include Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, and Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn. They filed the brief in Karen Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management.

The Golinski case is one of the key pieces related to DOMA, the law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages between same-sex couples. 

In February, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional. 

The Department of Justice filed a writ of certiorari last week requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court hear Golinski at the federal level. 

Adam Polaski of Freedom to Marry writes, “This amicus brief, representing the stance of 132 members of the House of Representatives, is hugely important because it represents that the House is not in agreement on the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and that many House members wish to see the discriminatory law abolished.” 

Read highlights from the brief below, and the entire brief and a list of those who signed it here


Amici agree with the Department of Justice and the District Court that laws like DOMA that disadvantage lesbians and gay men warrant heightened judicial review, and that DOMA cannot survive such review. Amici agree that lesbians and gay men are the type of minority group that warrants the protection that heightened judicial review provides, and illustrate below that this group lacks sufficient political power to obtain equality through the democratic process alone…

Marriage is an important social and legal institution which increases the likelihood of stable relationships and thereby promotes the stability and productivity of adults, their children, and society. But Section 3 does not enhance stability or security for anyone. Six states and the District of Columbia have decided that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry promotes the welfare of adults, children, and their states. Section 3 represents an unprecedented attempt by Congress to displace these determinations with its own policy judgments. But Congress has no legitimate federal interest in doing so…

Prior to DOMA, Congress achieved its legitimate federal interests in promoting the welfare of American families by working cooperatively with the States and respecting state marriage determinations. Congress’ radical departure from that federalist practice was a mistake; because Section 3 violates the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee, it is also unconstitutional. The decision below should be affirmed.




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