HRC Blog

House Republicans Take DOMA Defense to U.S. Supreme Court

Post submitted by Brian Moulton, Former HRC Legal Director

Late Friday, House Republican leaders, through the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to the review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Gill v. OPM and Commonwealth v. HHS holding DOMA’s denial of federal recognition to lawfully married gay and lesbian couples to be unconstitutional.  As in their past filings, this request for review – known as a petition for writ of certiorari or a “cert petition” – argues that DOMA is neither discriminatory nor based on anti-gay animus, but merely serves the legitimate purposes of preserving scarce government resources and promoting traditional marriage.  After all, the petition notes, “Congress recognized the basic biological fact that only a man and a woman can beget a child together without external assistance, and sought to encourage children to be raised by both their biological parents.”   

Despite having committed as much as $1.5 million in taxpayer money to defending this discriminatory law so far, House Republicans have been heretofore unsuccessful in their efforts.  Since the Justice Department handed over defense of DOMA to the House last year, three federal district courts and a federal appellate court – with judges appointed by a broad range of Republican and Democratic presidents – have all concluded that DOMA’s definition of marriage, and its denial of more than 1100 rights and benefits to lawfully married couples, cannot stand.  While this continued waste of federal resources – particularly when House Republicans claim DOMA helps to preserve the public fisc – is deeply disappointing, we are confident that the plaintiffs and their skilled advocates at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) will win the day, and that the Supreme Court will agree that our constitution does not permit the federal government to pick and choose which lawful marriages it will recognize.

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