Obama Administration Urges Supreme Court to Strike Down DOMA
The Obama administration on Friday urged the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense Of Marriage Act in a brief that calls the law unconstitutional because it violates “the fundamental guarantee of equal protection.”
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argues in the brief that Section 3 of the 1996 federal law prohibits the marriage of same-sex couples and should get the court’s close scrutiny.
“The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples. Because this discrimination cannot be justified as substantially furthering any important governmental interest, Section 3 is unconstitutional.”
DOMA, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, has been found unconstitutional by lower courts. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal in one of those cases, U.S. v. Windsor. Oral arguments are scheduled for March 27.
Verrilli argues in his brief that gays and lesbians have been historically discriminated against. He describes how DOMA should proceed if the Supreme Court does not apply the increased scrutiny:
“The government has previously defended Section 3 under rational-basis review, and does not challenge the constitutionality of Section 3 under that highly deferential standard.”