Legal groups asks US Supreme Court to hear DOMA challenge

[JURIST] A gay rights group urged [cert. petition, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday to review a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive] that denies benefits to married same-sex couples. The Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) [advocacy website] specifically challenged Section 3 of DOMA, which restricts tax, health care and other benefits of marriage to married heterosexual couples. The petitioners in the case are six married same-sex couples and a widower who argue that Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutionally denies same-sex married couples' equal protection rights. Earlier this month Judge Vanessa Bryant of the US District Court for the District of Connecticut [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional, as it lacked a rational basis. In the petition, GLAD urged the Supreme Court to hear the DOMA challenge because same-sex couples continue to face economic hardships due to DOMA and the Supreme Court could resolve DOMA's constitutionality once and for all:

[E]ach of the Petitioners demonstrates existing and ongoing economic harms as well as other burdens on their valid and existing marriages. Any continued delay in the resolution of the clear constitutional question presented by this case and this petition for review only exacerbates those harms unnecessarily for these Petitioners and for all other legally married same-sex couples throughout the country.
It is unclear if or when the Supreme Court will decide to hear the petitioners' challenge to DOMA.

Last month Bryant denied a motion by the Bipartisant Legal Advocacy Group (BLAG) to stay the lawsuit [JURIST reports] pending a Second Circuit ruling in another case. Edith Schlain Windsor, 83, successfully sued the US government [complaint, PDF] in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) [official website], which in June also ruled on summary judgment that under a rational basis standard [Cornell LII backgrounder] of judicial scrutiny that DOMA is unconstitutional [JURIST report]. Last month the elderly New York woman petitioned the Supreme Court to expedite her DOMA challenge [JURIST report] and bypass the Second Circuit appeal. That same week a lesbian couple filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website] in a DOMA challenge that seeks to achieve for gay and lesbian couples the same federal immigration rights afforded to heterosexual couples [JURIST report] under the Immigration and Nationality Act [materials]. Also that week 132 members of the US House of Representatives [official website] filed an amicus brief [JURIST report] stressing that the House is "not united on DOMA's validity" and arguing that statutory classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to heightened judicial scrutiny, but that DOMA should be overturned as unconstitutional under any level of judicial scrutiny. The brief was filed in the appeal of Karen Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, the landmark case in which the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional [JURIST report].

 

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