Obama administration to argue for gay marriage in Supreme Court case
The US Supreme Court next month hears arguments in a case challenging the 'Defense of Marriage Act.' In a brief filed Friday, the Obama administration asserts that DOMA discriminates against gay and lesbian couples in violation of the US Constitution.
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Homosexual conduct has a history of being prosecuted as criminal in the United States. And although same-sex marriages now are legally recognized in nine states and the District of Columbia, many more states still have laws aimed at gays and lesbians – including restrictions on the adoption of children, banning gay marriage, and refusing legal benefits to same-sex couples.Skip to next paragraph
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“Tradition, no matter how long established, cannot by itself justify a discriminatory law under equal protection principles,” the Solicitor General writes in his brief.
The Supreme Court next month also is scheduled to take up California’s Proposition 8, which provides that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized” in the state. Both Prop. 8 and DOMA have been declared unconstitutional by lower courts.
It’s unclear whether the Obama administration will weigh in against Prop. 8 as it has with DOMA.
“Next week I think we will see the government urging the same standard of review be used to overturn Prop. 8, and with it, all anti-gay-marriage laws,” Richard Socarides, a gay rights advocate and White House adviser to President Bill Clinton, told Politico. “It’s clear from the administration’s DOMA brief that they understand and now embrace its connection to the Prop. 8 case. The discrimination evidenced by Prop. 8 itself is cited to support the standard of review urged by the government to strike down DOMA.”
The DOMA case involves Edith Windsor, who lived with her partner Thea Spyer for many years. They were married in 2007 in Canada, returning to their home in New York where their marriage was recognized by state law. But when Ms. Spyer died in 2009, Ms. Windsor – because of DOMA – was forced to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes that the surviving spouse in a heterosexual marriage would not have to pay.
As he has said, President Obama’s position on gay marriage has “evolved” in its favor.
In his inaugural address last month, he said, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."
Polls show a clear shift in public acceptance of same-sex marriage, especially among under-30 Americans – 63-35 percent approve, according to a Quinnipiac University poll in December. For all age groups, Gallup puts the number at 53-46 approval.