Defense of Marriage Act

Hesitant about marriage equality, Supreme Court? Follow the millennials’ lead — MSNBC

In the coming months, as the Court deliberates legal questions of standing and scope of rights, millennials are asking a broader question: will the Court support our most basic understanding of equality under the law, or saddle us with the task of securing a right that nearly all of us, gay and straight, already understand as fundamental?

Like many straight millennials, my support for marriage equality formed over time. I grew up in a household that viewed homosexuality as an aberration and disease. When my best friend’s older brother came out as gay, I was confused. I knew he wasn’t a bad person, but I also was too afraid of the stigma to talk to him about it. Still, it was difficult to feel disgust for someone I knew and admired.

When I went to college, my world opened up, old beliefs fell away, and I found myself with friends of different faiths, colors, and orientations. These friendships began to change the minds of people in my family too. But I did not become an advocate for equality until after September 11th. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, I witnessed my Sikh community, many of whom wear turbans as a religious observance, targeted in hate crimes. For the next decade, I worked on films and campaigns against discrimination alongside my college friend J. Her race and sexual orientation were different from mine, but I wouldn’t understand what role this played in our work until a few years later.

via Hesitant about marriage equality, Supreme Court? Follow the millennials’ lead — MSNBC.

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Senators Abandon ‘Discriminatory’ DOMA Before Supreme Court Arguments – ABC News

Three Democratic senators have reversed their stance on the Defense of Marriage Act in the past three days before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the law that limits marriage to one man and one woman.

Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., John “Jay” Rockefeller, D-W.V., and Mark Warner, D-Va., said today and Sunday that they no longer support a federal law banning gay marriage. The Supreme Court plans to hear oral arguments in a case challenging that law Wednesday, after it considers a law banning same-sex marriage in California Tuesday.

McCaskill made the announcement on her Tumblr blog Sunday.

“I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love. While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry,” McCaskill wrote. “Good people disagree with me. On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.”

via Senators Abandon ‘Discriminatory’ DOMA Before Supreme Court Arguments – ABC News.

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Facebookers Go Red To Support Marriage Equality | TechCrunch

Notice a little extra red in the blue sea of Facebook the past couple of days?

That’s a new picture shared by the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for LGBT individuals and their allies, which is being used to show support for marriage equality.

Proposition 8, which outlaws same-sex marriages in California, has moved in front of the Supreme Court for review. During this crucial time, Facebook users are finding a way to show support through the social network by sharing this photo and adding it as a profile picture.

The photo is a new take on the HRC’s usual yellow and navy logo, turned red and white to represent love.

Here’s what the HRC said when it shared the photo:

Make sure you wear red to show your support for marriage equality. And make your Facebook profile red too!

The photo has been shared over 65,000 times since being uploaded yesterday morning, and has garnered almost 20,000 likes.

But the HRC isn’t the only spreading the love of equality. Popular gay celebrities Ellen Degeneresand Lance Bass (formerly of Nsync and an attempted space mission) both changed their profile pictures yesterday to show support. Ellen’s new pic has over 60,000 likes, and Lance’s whole Facebook page is dedicated to fighting for marriage equality.

To top it all off, Facebook’s official resource page for LGBT individuals, has also joined in by changing its profile picture to the red equality image.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen political activism take place on social media — SOPA/PIPA, cell phone unlocking, and Arab Spring uprisings all come to mind. This also marks a growing trend of this particular debate, around marriage equality, going down on Facebook. Remember Chick-Fil-A appreciation day?

If you want to show your support for the striking down of Proposition 8, inching a group of minority Americans closer to the equality they have been promised, go ahead and

change your profile photo to the one above.

And if that doesn’t feel like enough, the HRC has an online petition here..

via Facebookers Go Red To Support Marriage Equality | TechCrunch.

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Supreme Court Lines Form For Gay Marriage Cases

ScotusWASHINGTON — A line has begun forming at the Supreme Court for people who want to attend next week’s arguments in two gay marriage cases.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg confirmed by email that people began lining up at some point Thursday.

The justices will hear arguments Tuesday on California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage and on Wednesday on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

Lines frequently form in advance for the free tickets to high-profile arguments, but five days before a case is particularly early. For last year’s three days of arguments over the Affordable Care Act, the line began about three days early.

via Supreme Court Lines Form For Gay Marriage Cases.

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Solicitor General Files Fair-minded DOMA Brief: Whatever comes next, Verrilli has shown himself to be an advocate for equality: Opinion section: Metro Weekly magazine, Washington, DC newspaper

The new media were ablaze on the evening of Feb. 22 after U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli filed a brief in United States v. Windsor asking the Supreme Court to overturn Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). He performed a quietly brutal takedown of Paul Clement’s brief for the House Republicans, whose Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) has intervened to defend DOMA.

It is an historic breakthrough for the U.S. government’s top courtroom attorney to urge the high court to use “heightened scrutiny” in judging the constitutionality of laws that disfavor gays and lesbians. Decades of gay-rights activism are rolled up into Verrilli’s beautifully written compilation of scientific evidence, precedent and incisive argument.

Shining through the brief is an unavoidable fact – or tens of thousands of them: the legally married gay and lesbian couples in nine states and the District of Columbia. Verrilli writes:

“Section 3 of DOMA targets the many gay and lesbian people legally married under state law for a harsh form of discrimination that bears no relation to their ability to contribute to society. It is abundantly clear that this discrimination does not substantially advance an interest in protecting marriage, or any other important interest. The statute simply cannot be reconciled with the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. The Constitution therefore requires that Section 3 be invalidated.”

Having noted the states’ rights provision in Section 2 (which is not under challenge), Verrilli writes, “[B]ecause Section 3 imposes no restriction on the ability of any state to provide for same-sex marriage, it does not substantially further any interest in preserving ‘traditional, heterosexual’ marriage.” He also states, “[I]t defies reason to suggest that Section 3 makes it any more likely that heterosexual individuals will marry or raise children together.”

Verrilli observes that the 1996 House Report on DOMA invoked “traditional notions of morality,” then he cites Lawrence v. Texas and lowers the boom: “Moral opposition to homosexuality, though it may reflect deeply held personal views, is not a legitimate policy objective that can justify unequal treatment of gay and lesbian people.”

via Solicitor General Files Fair-minded DOMA Brief: Whatever comes next, Verrilli has shown himself to be an advocate for equality: Opinion section: Metro Weekly magazine, Washington, DC newspaper.

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Nearly 300 Employers Urge Supreme Court to Strike Down DOMA :: EDGE on the Net

Nearly 300 businesses and city governments filed a brief with the Supreme Court calling for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage, be struck down as unconstitutional.

Signed by approximately 278 employers, including major businesses such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Starbucks, Morgan Stanley, Google and cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles, the brief argues that DOMA hurts work efficiency and employee moral.

“In the modern workplace, the employer becomes the face of DOMA’s discriminatory treatment, and is placed in the role of intrusive inquisitor, imputer of taxable income, and withholder of benefits,” writes attorney Sabin Willett. “The employer is thus forced by DOMA to participate in the injury of its own workforce morale.”

Our principles are not platitudes. Our mission statements are not simply plaques in the lobby. Statements of principle are our agenda for success: born of experience, tested in laboratory, factory, and office, attuned to competition. Our principles reflect, in the truest sense, our business judgment. By force of law, DOMA rescinds that judgment and directs that we renounce these principles or, worse yet, betray them.

Several of the employers who have attached their names to the brief have spoken out on the issue of marriage equality before. The brief comes one day after attorneys for Edith Windsor, the 83-year-old lesbian widow at the center of the DOMA case before the Supreme Court, filed their brief with the high court. Windsor’s lawyers echoed many of the arguments made in a brief filed by the Obama administration last week, arguing for “heightened scrutiny” in the case and dismissing arguments made by the Republican-controlled House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which has been defending DOMA in court since the Obama administration stopped doing so in February 2011.

Oral arguments are scheduled to begin on the DOMA case March 27, one day after the Supreme Court hears arguments on the Proposition 8 case.

via Nearly 300 Employers Urge Supreme Court to Strike Down DOMA :: EDGE on the Net.

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Americans are done with DOMA

Two new polls out today show that support for marriage equality and rejection of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are on the rise. President Obama hasn’t said whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Yet an overwhelming majority of Americans believes that they do.

According to a poll conducted for the Respect for Marriage Coalition, “Three-quarters of voters (75%) believe that [same-sex marriage] is a Constitutional right.” This is up four points since 2011. Also, such support “spans across party lines.”

Democrats: 91 percent
Independents: 75 percent
Republican: 56 percent

Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of Americans (83 percent), “regardless of their personal opinion on the issue,” believes that same-sex marriage will be legal nationally “in the next five to 10 years.” The number drops to 77 percent for those who believe marriage equality will go national “in the next couple of years.” The only way marriage equality can go national is if DOMA is repealed either by a ruling of the Supreme Court or by Congress.

What makes DOMA especially egregious is Section 3, which defines “marriage” as between one man and one woman and “spouse” as someone of the opposite gender. Because of this, federal law does not recognize legally married same-sex couples. Thus, they are denied Social Security survivor benefits among the more than 1,100 other rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

A national survey released Tuesday that was conducted on behalf of the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) revealed that 59 percent of registered voters “oppose” Section 3 of DOMA.

via Americans are done with DOMA.

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Suze Orman Discusses DOMAs Economic Harms – On Top Magazine | Gay news & entertainment

Financial whiz Suze Orman appeared on CNN to discuss the economic harms the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) causes.

DOMA is the 1996 law which prevents federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

“It costs [married gay couples] anywhere from 5 to $9,000 more per year in taxes because of those benefits or added income to themselves. Now that is money that doesn’t go into the economy. Now while it’s true that they pay more in taxes, the taxes are not in the United States of America what holds up the economy. The earnings and job growth, everything like that, holds it up. That is millions and millions of dollars, not going into the economy.”

Orman, who married her partner, Kathy Travis, in South Africa, said DOMA impacted her personally.

“I’ve been gay my entire life. This has been something I’ve been fighting for my entire life. I want to be recognized. I pay a lot of money in income tax. I do everything I can to help America with their money problems. I really feel I should be recognized. Every single gay person in the United States of America should be recognized for who they love, and not penalized for it, financially speaking.”

via Suze Orman Discusses DOMAs Economic Harms – On Top Magazine | Gay news & entertainment.

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Mormons, religious groups file brief in support of Prop 8 | Gay News | Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source

The participation of the Church of Latter-Day Saints in a legal brief filed by religious groups in favor of California’s Proposition 8 is vexing an organization that advocates for LGBT Mormons.

In a 38-page friend-of-the-court brief, filed before the Supreme Court Jan. 29, religious groups — including the Mormon Church — emphasize that justices shouldn’t strike down Prop 8 on the basis of religious support for the anti-gay amendment. The brief is signed by Von Keech, a Utah-based private attorney who has previously assisted the Mormon Church, as well as other private attorneys with his firm Alexander Dushku, R. Shawn Gunnarson and Kirton McConkie.

“[O]ur members supported Proposition 8 based on sincere beliefs in the value of traditional marriage for children, families, society, and our republican form of government,” the brief states. “Only a demeaning view of religion and religious believers could dismiss our advocacy of Proposition 8 as ignorance, prejudice, or animus.”

In a statement on Monday, Affirmation, a national group for gay and lesbian Mormons, questioned why the Mormon Church would participate in a legal brief in favor of Prop 8 after backing off its support of anti-gay measures since the passage of the California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2008.

“I agree that churches should have the freedom to petition the government and that Proposition 8 should not be invalidated due to religious support of the initiative,” said Affirmation President Randall Thacker, who’s gay. “However, we believe Proposition 8 should be invalidated on the grounds that it denies protections to same-sex couples who have committed to care and provide for each other and their children, a grouping that is clearly defined as a family by the majority of society.”

Spencer Clark, who’s straight and president of Mormons for Marriage Equality, said he agrees the law should provide a foundation for strong families, but said Prop 8 harms children being raised by same-sex parents.

“Unfortunately, Proposition 8 provides no additional benefits to straight couples while denying substantial benefits and legitimacy to gay and lesbian couples who are also raising children,” Clark said. “The brief argues for a conception of marriage that blatantly ignores the hundreds of thousands of children in the United States being raised by same-sex couples, pretending that these loving families don’t exist.”

via Mormons, religious groups file brief in support of Prop 8 | Gay News | Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source.

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G.O.P. Authorizes 3 Million for DOMA Defense – NYTimes.com

Republican lawmakers are threatening to put the nation’s financial health at risk over a ritual vote to raise the debt ceiling, but they don’t actually object to throwing away money. Case in point: they seem to relish spending taxpayer dollars on the plainly unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act.

The 1996 law prohibits federal recognition of marriages between people of the same sex. It was signed – to his shame – by President Bill Clinton, and for years the government defended DOMA in court against lawsuits. But in 2011 President Obama instructed the Justice Department to relent – after Justice concluded that the law was not constitutional.

Cue the budget-conscious Republicans on Capitol Hill, who authorized the spending of up to $2.75 million in public funds to hire lawyers to defend DOMA on their behalf. Apparently, that was not a big enough check, so on Jan. 4, the House Republicans raised the fee ceiling to $3 million.

On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner protesting the spending, which the G.O.P. leadership somehow forgot to mention at any of the dozens of press conferences they’ve held to preach the gospel of fiscal responsibility.

“This clandestine commitment of taxpayer funds is highly irregular and objectionable, and it must end now,” they wrote, pointing out that defending DOMA is futile since it violates Constitutional guarantees of equal protection.

The Defense of Marriage Act is perhaps the last example of officially sanctioned discrimination in the United States. Until Congress repeals it or the Supreme Court strikes it down, a select group of Americans will be denied the benefits and recognition provided to all other married Americans, and state laws that allow gay unions will have only limited effect

G.O.P. Authorizes 3 Million for DOMA Defense – NYTimes.com.

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