Today, House LGBT Equality Caucus members Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congressman Barney Frank, Congresswoman and Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin, Congressman Jared Polis, Congressman David Cicilline, and Congressman John Conyers applauded the Supreme Court's grant of review in United States of America v. Edith Schlain Windsor, a landmark case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Passed by Congress in 1996, DOMA denies federal responsibility and rights -- including Social Security benefits, equal tax treatment, and federal health care coverage -- to same-sex couples who are lawfully married under the laws of their states. Several cases have been filed challenging the validity of the law, resulting in two federal courts of appeal striking the law as a violation of equal protection guarantees and several lower courts reaching the same conclusion. The Court also granted review in Hollingsworth v. Perry, a case challenging the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that overturned marriage equality in that state and was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The members issued the following joint statement:
"We welcome the Supreme Court's decision to review DOMA and ensure that Congress affords all families equal treatment under the law. Congress failed this fundamental obligation when it hastily passed DOMA in 1996 and foreclosed federal recognition for married same-sex couples before gay men or lesbians could marry anywhere in the world. We have long argued that no legitimate federal interest is served by depriving loving, committed same-sex couples the same security that we provide others. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will affirm the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that DOMA is unconstitutional and must be struck down."
In September, the six Members of Congress joined Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, with the support of 137 other House Members, in filing an amicus brief in the court of appeals in Edith Schlain Windsor v. United States of America, voicing their opposition to arguments being made by House Republican Leadership, who have hired outside lawyers and already committed $1.5 million taxpayer dollars to defending DOMA in court. Their amicus brief makes it clear that the House is not united on DOMA's validity, that the lawyers arguing on behalf of House Republican Leadership do not speak for the entire institution, and that there is no legitimate federal interest in denying married same-sex couples the legal security, rights and responsibilities that federal law provides to couples who are married under state law. Section 3 of DOMA does not affect married heterosexual couples and their children, who are recognized regardless of DOMA. And this law affirmatively harms married gay and lesbian couples and their children. Nadler and the main sponsors of the amicus briefs filed to date intend to participate in the Supreme Court's consideration of the Windsor case.