Today, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer joined 212 House and Senate Democrats in filing an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in U.S. v. Edith Schlain Windsor, which challenges Section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. That section denies federal recognition to same-sex couples legally married in states that perform such marriages, defining marriage under federal law as only between a man and a woman. The Court is expected to hear arguments in the case later in March.
"The federal government should not discriminate against any American," Whip Hoyer said. "Section 3 of DOMA places an unfair burden on same-sex couples who seek only the equal treatment all of our people deserve, and it violates a basic principle of states' rights by not recognizing the legal marriages performed in some states, like Maryland. It is time for the Supreme Court to declare what so many Americans already recognize to be true: Section 3 of DOMA is discriminatory, unconstitutional, and must be struck down."
In U.S. v. Edith Schlain Windsor, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that was filed after Ms. Thea Spyer of New York, NY, passed away in 2009, leaving behind her wife, Edith, whom she married in 2007 after being together for over 40 years. Although the State of New York recognized their marriage, DOMA prevented the federal government from doing so, resulting in a federal estate tax of more than $363,000 levied against Edith that would not have been imposed had their marriage been federally recognized. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in her favor, declaring that Section 3 of DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
The Members' brief urges the Supreme Court to uphold the Second Circuit's decision. These 212 Members decided to participate as amici in this case because they want the Supreme Court to hear the full story from Congress, and to explain why they believe that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional. They disagree with the arguments being made by lawyers hired to defend DOMA in court by the House Majority following the divided 3-2 vote of the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG). The amicus brief filed today makes clear that BLAG does not speak for Congress, and that many members believe that Section 3 should be struck down because there simply is no legitimate federal interest in denying married same-sex couples the legal security, rights and responsibilities that federal law provides to all other married couples.
The full text of the brief can be read here: