Activists in the U.S.A. have hoped that the Obama administration would take the imperative step of standing behind the promise for equality.  Now we can truly thank President Obama as the administration urged the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in a brief filed Friday, declaring the 1996 federal law to be unconstitutional.

Arguing that Section 3 of DOMA, which forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage, violates the Constitution, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli writes that DOMA also deserves heightened scrutiny because of the history of discrimination faced by gays and lesbians.

“Section 3 of DOMA violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection,” the brief reads. “The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples. Because this discrimination cannot be justified as substantially furthering any important governmental interest, Section 3 is unconstitutional.”

On the issue of heightened scrutiny, the brief states thats “gay and lesbian people have long suffered discrimination in employment, immigration, criminal violence, child custody, police enforcement, voter referenda, and other contexts.”

[G]ay and lesbian people are a minority group with limited political power. Although some of the harshest and most overt forms of discrimination against gay and lesbian people have receded, that progress has hardly been uniform (either temporally or geographically), and has in significant respects been the result of judicial enforcement of the Constitution, not political action.

The brief also takes issue with arguments advanced by the Republican-controlled House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which has been defending DOMA in federal court since the Obama administration stopped doing so in February 2011, including its argument that this is an issue that should not be decided by the courts.

BLAG makes an appeal to this Court to allow the democratic process to run its course. 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.  READ MORE 


White House brief to strike down DOMA shows support of same-gender parenting - 

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