House Democratic Leader Pelosi & 131 others file amicus brief opposing DOMA

Today 132 members of the House of Representatives, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, and Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, filed an amicus brief in Karen Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management. Golinski is one of the key cases related to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages between same-sex couples. 

Golinski v. O.P.M. is currently awaiting a hearing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A February 22, 2012 ruling in the case found that DOMA's Section 3, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional. Last week, the Department of Justice filed a writ of certiorari requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court hear Golinski at the federal level. DOMA is currently being defended in the case by the GOP-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which stepped in to defend DOMA when the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the anti-gay law. 

The DOJ's writ of certiorari affirmed explicitly that the Obama administration believes DOMA to be unconstitutional, and this new amicus brief similarly attacks DOMA's constitutionality. Here are key excerpts from the brief:

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.

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. The brief intelligently and thoughtfully discusses the ways in which marriage strengthens relationships and affirms that recognizing marriages between same-sex couples benefits not only the couples, but also their children, their communities, and society as a whole. 

Read the entire brief HERE, and see all of the members of Congress who signed onto it HERE.   

Freedom to Marry thanks House Democratic Leader Pelosi and the 131 other members of Congress for standing up to oppose DOMA in this brief. We are thrilled to see such incredible support from Congress and point to our continued federal support for the freedom to marry: 151 House members and 32 Senators have co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act, and the Respect for Marriage Coalition now includes 74 members. As marriage advocates continue to make the case for marriage across the country, we're seeing more and more influential leaders in the United States take charge and raise their voice about why the freedom to marry is essential and why DOMA is wrong. This brief provides even greater evidence of these facts and will help move the country forward on marriage. 

Read about all of the briefs opposing DOMA: