Thursday, June 14, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #61 - Part 1

Good news on same-sex marriage: Another court finds DOMA unconstitutional

On June 6, Judge Barbara Jones of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is unconstitutional in that it denies federal benefits to same-sex spouses legally married in their home states. This came just a week after the First Circuit Court of Appeals came to the same conclusion in a case I mentioned last week.

In addition, two cases out of the Northern District of California have also held DOMA to be unconstitutional on the grounds that it discriminates against same-sex couples in a way for which there is no demonstrated "rational basis." One of those cases will be before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the fall.

After the Obama administration said it would no longer defend DOMA in court, House Speaker John Boner put together what he called his Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives - which has the rather appropriate acronym BLAG - to defend the law. They hired private attorney Paul Clement to do the deed. He has defended DOMA in four separate cases now, and has lost all four times.

As a footnote to this, I mentioned last week that the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court had declined to rehear a decision by a three-judge panel that Proposition 8, which undid rights gained by same-sex couples, could not stand. Three judges dissented from that ruling, saying in part that "we have now declared that animus must have been the only conceivable motivation for a sovereign State to have remained committed to a definition of marriage that has existed for millennia."

Well, the legal basis was, again, you can't just take a group and strip away rights previously obtained. But yes, they're right: animus is the only conceivable motivation for denying same-sex couples the right to marry. Yes, it is.


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