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Public Statements

Hatch Leads Senators in Defending DOMA Before the Ninth Circuit

U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) led a group of Senators who supported the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) when it passed Congress in 1996 in filing a friend-of-the-court brief today defending DOMA's constitutionality with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Joining Hatch are Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). More than 80 percent of both the Senate and House voted for DOMA, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law on September 21, 1996.

In the brief, the Senators argue that the district improperly struck down DOMA by ignoring the important reasons for the law and by falsely attributing to individual members of Congress, and to Congress as a whole, the motivation of "animus." "There is no logical stopping point to the proposition that a legislative act may be declared unconstitutional based on divining and disparaging the motivations of individual legislators, or even of the people themselves. This approach is corrosive to the rule of law, disrespectful of the co-equal branches of government, and ultimately destructive of democratic debate in a free society."

Hatch, who chaired Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on DOMA in 1996, said, "The district court misapplied the law to selectively distorted facts in order to achieve the political results it wanted. Substituting personal views for the law prevents the people and their elected representatives from making decisions on such sensitive and important issues."

The Senators also make the case that "Congress had compelling reasons to adopt a uniform federal policy on recognition of same-sex marriages." "By enacting DOMA," the brief asserts, "Congress sought to mitigate this national confusion by clarifying the definition of marriage for purposes of federal law, while preserving the authority of states to make determinations with regard to their own state laws. Congress sought to preserve the status quo, not disrupt it."


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