GLAD files request for Supreme Court review of ‘Pedersen v. O.P.M.’
August 22, 2012
Yesterday, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in its Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management lawsuit, meaning that GLAD is asking the Court to review their case at the federal level. The case challenges the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prohibits federal respect for same-sex couples' lawful marriages.
GLAD's filing comes less than a month after trial court judge Vanessa L. Bryant found that DOMA's Section 3, which excludes same-sex couples from marriage, is unconstitutional. The case, initially filed in November 2010, concerns several married same-sex couples and widowers in Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire, who were denied federal tax, social security, pension and family medical leave protections (one couple with Hillary Clinton, right). The lawsuit argues that Section 3 of DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution's fifth amendment, which promises equal protection under the law. Judge Bryant was appointed to the court in 2007 by Republican President George W. Bush and is one of many Republican-appointed judges who have found DOMA to be discriminatory.
GLAD's filing yesterday argues that the Pedersen v. O.P.M. case, which is one of many lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of DOMA, would be a strong case for the Supreme Court to review. GLAD cites the wide range of their plaintiffs' situations and explains that DOMA discriminates in many ways, ways that should be reflected in the Supreme Court review of the law. The petition states:
DOMA is not a narrow statute that discriminates against gay men and lesbians in discrete contexts, but rather a broad-based enactment whose effects pervade the entire U.S. Code. Because they have been disadvantaged in so many ways, the Petitioners in this case best represent the range of DOMA's effects on married gay men and lesbians.
The question now remains which, if any, of the DOMA challenges will be reviewed by the Supreme Court next year. Three other cases have received multiple requests over the past few weeks. The U.S. Department of Justice has asked for review of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management (consolidated with Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), and Golinski v. O.P.M., while the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a petition for review of Windsor v. United States and the State of Massachusetts has requested review of Massachusetts v. HHS. Opponents of the freedom to marry, including the Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group and 15 states, have requested review in Gill v. O.P.M.
The flurry of Supreme Court requests makes it likely that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act will be reviewed by the nation's highest court. We urge the Court to agree with the more than half dozen district judges who have found DOMA to be unconstitutional. We look forward to the day when DOMA is struck down once and for all so that married same-sex couples can share in the federal protections and responsibilities provided to all other married couples, their kids, and those who deal with them.
Stay on top of all of the challenges to DOMA HERE.