Same-sex marriage: DOMA briefs ( is this the FINAL UPDATE for SCOTUS)

NOTE: Under the Supreme Court’s schedule for briefing on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, two kinds of briefs were filed Friday.  The Obama administration filed its brief arguing why it considers DOMA to be unconstitutional.  Second, briefs were filed on the question of whether the Court has the authority to decide that case.  One of those was from the administration, one from the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives, and one from Edith Windsor, a New York City woman who was required, under DOMA, to pay an estate tax after inheriting property when her same-sex spouse died.  In this post, the blog provides a link to each of these briefs; the post has been updated as they became available.   The contents of the briefs are discussed in separate posts, below this one, in this order:

The brief of the Obama administration on the constitutionality of DOMA is here, and its brief on its right to pursue an appeal on DOMA is here.  A single post discussing those two briefs is here.

The brief for the House Republican leaders on their standing to appeal and their challenge to the government’s right to appeal is here.  A post discussing this brief is here.

The brief for Ms. Windsor on the jurisdictional issues is here. The brief’s arguments are discussed here.


The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), the first LGBT chamber to be asked to join the United States Supreme Court business amicus brief in the United States v. Windsor case, is signing on as an amici together with other businesses, municipalities, chambers and business organizations. The amicus brief explains the discriminatory and adverse effects that DOMA has on LGBT married families and on businesses and advocates the unconstitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA. GSBA has been working on marriage equality and building the business case for equality for many years through signing onto court briefs, legislative advocacy and referenda advocacy.  In addition, GSBA is a recognized leader in educating legislators at all levels of government about and advocating for equal rights with tax and immigration laws.

“For those not familiar with the Windsor case, Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, New York residents, were together for 42 years, and legally married in Canada in 2007.  Thea Spyer passed away in 2009, leaving her estate to her spouse Edie.  Thea’s estate was assessed $363,000 in federal estate taxes, because the federal government under DOMA does not recognize their marriage or extend the estate tax exemptions afforded to different-sex spouses.  Had the federal government recognized the legal marriages of same-sex couples at the time of Thea’s death, Edie would have been entitled to the spousal exemption and not have had to pay any of the $363,000 in federal estate taxes.

Businesses that are located or operate in states that either have or recognize marriages of same-sex couples (California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, the Coquille Tribe (Oregon) and the Suquamish Tribe (Washington)) can also become amici.  This is our opportunity as business leaders to stand up and let the U.S. Supreme Court know that business supports equality and that the government’s unequal treatment of LGBT families adversely impact employers.”See

Sources advise that more employers are trying to get in on the act at this time; while we thought that the filing deadline had passed for amicus briefs in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases. More to follow in due course.

There are obviously many interested parties who are well advised to file such briefs. It is hoped that the briefs will serve as more than mere publicity stunts and marketing scrambles to be recorded as parts of this historic moment in LGBT history, and that they will all indeed impact the Justices with the imperative message that so many of us await equal treatment under the law.


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