60 House Democrats refuse to sign federal court brief against DOMA
A group of House Democrats filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking a federal appeals court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, according to Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner.
However, 60 Democrats — including 15 who had co-sponsored a bill repealing the DOMA — chose not to sign on to Tuesday’s brief to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case hinges on DOMA’s ability to prevent same-sex spouses from receiving federal benefits, which was declared unconstitutional in February 2012 by a U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
The brief, filed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and 131 other Democrats, argues that the law was motivated by “the desire to disapprove of and disadvantage gay and lesbian couples.” Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have consistently opposed the law as part of the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which, under Republican leadership, has been defending it in court since the Obama administration’s withdrawal of support for the law last year.
The Washington Blade reports that the brief also states that the law is unconstitutional because it was passed for political motives.
The House Democrats’ brief then argues that DOMA is unconstitutional because Congress hastily passed it in 1996 for political reasons and because the law undercuts Congress’ interest in protecting families and respecting state sovereignty.
“Congress did not proceed “cautiously” as BLAG now suggests, … but acted hastily,” the brief states. “And in a manner that reflects the reality that, as a historically disfavored minority, gay men and lesbians have often been targeted for harm based on stereotypes, bias, and the unfortunate desire to create partisan wedge issues for political gain,” the brief states.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a group of 10 Republican senators had also filed a brief to the appeals court last month, saying individual lawmakers’ views should not be prioritized over federal policy.
“The fact that many legislators hold traditional views on the subject of homosexuality cannot possibly invalidate DOMA,” the Republicans said.
[Nancy Pelosi photo via Ryan Rodrick Beiler on Shutterstock]