Medical and psychological organizations file amicus brief in DOMA case

Today, a number of medical and psychological organizations filed an amicus brief in Karen Golinski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management, making the case that children are not harmed by having same-sex parents - but rather by federal laws that prohibit the legal recognition of their parents' marriage. The brief was jointly filed by the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the California Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychoanalytic Association. It directly attacks the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the law that prohibits federal recognition of marriages between same-sex couples, and it asks the Court to find the law unconstitutional. 

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 brief urges the Court to uphold the lower court's ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional. It makes the medical case for marriage and seeks to dispel a number of myths being pushed by anti-gay groups. The document makes several key arguments, including: 

  • "Homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality, is generally not chosen, and is highly resistant to change." 
  • "Many same-sex couples are raising children, and the factors that affect the adjustment of children are not dependent on parental gender or sexual orientation." 
  • "There is no scientific basis for concluding that gay and lesbian parents are any less fit or capable than heterosexual parents, or that their children are any less psychologically healthy and well adjusted."
  • "Denying federal recognition to legally married same-sex couples stigmatizes them."

The brief also states:

The claim that legal recognition of marriage for same-sex couples undermines the institution of marriage and harms their children is inconsistent with the scientific evidence. That evidence supports the conclusion that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality that is not chosen; that gay and lesbian people form stable, committed relationships that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential respects; and that same-sex couples are no less fit than heterosexual parents to raise children and their children are no less psychologically healthy and well-adjusted than children of opposite sex parents. 

The brief is the third influential filing this week to urge the Court to rule DOMA unconstitutional. On Tuesday, 132 Democratic members of Congress, including Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, submitted a brief detailing why DOMA should be ruled unconstitutional, and last night, a trio of labor organizations expressed their interests in seeing DOMA overturned. These briefs represent the enormous, continually-growing momentum that we're currently seeing with the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Organization after organization is expressing how DOMA specifically interferes with same-sex couples' freedoms, sharing their expertise and speaking as authorities on this critical issue of fairness and respect. 

Read about all of the briefs opposing DOMA: