The Obama administration, via the Department of Justice, last night filed a 54-page legal brief requesting the Supreme Court strike down DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 that bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
That approach would be very well taken in most circumstances. This is, however, the rare case in which deference to the democratic process must give way to the fundamental constitutional command of equal treatment under law.
Section 3 of DOMA targets the many gay and lesbian people legally married under state law for a harsh form of discrimination that bears no relation to their ability to contribute to society. It is abundantly clear that this discrimination does not substantially advance an interest in protecting marriage, or any other important interest. The statute simply cannot be reconciled with the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. The Constitution therefore requires that Section 3 be invalidated.
“LGBT advocates have been calling on the Obama administration to file a similar brief in the lawsuit pending before the Supreme Court challenging California’s Proposition 8,” Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade reports:
As of Thursday, the White House hasn’t said whether the administration will file a brief, although President Obama said the solicitor general is “looking” at such action. The deadline for the Obama administration to file a brief in the case is Thursday.
In the DOMA case, the next step is for the ACLU to file its brief on the merits, which is expected on Tuesday. Oral arguments in the case are set for March 27 and justices are expected to render a decision before their term ends in June.
Read the complete DOJ brief here (PDF), via the Blade.
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