On December 18th, the leaders of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organizations called on the House Republican leadershipto stop funding the legal defense of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA forbids the federal government from recognizing the marriages of lawfully wedded same-sex couples, legally married in states that allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain marriage licenses.
“Despite the enormous economic challenges our country is facing, the House of Representatives recently decided to increase government spending to defend this discriminatory law – a law that intentionally harms thousands of Americans who are legally married,” the letter reads. “At the same time, voters in three states approved marriage equality and, in Minnesota, rejected writing a marriage ban into their state’s constitution. A strong majority of Americans support marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples – including an increasing number of conservatives. With more states allowing committed same-sex couples to obtain civil marriage licenses, DOMA imposes burdens on hard working, tax paying citizens.”
The previous week the contract with Bancroft – the Washington-based law firm hired by Republicans to defend the law in court – was made public, revealing that House Republicans secretly agreed to raise the cost cap to $2 million. Republicans began defending the bill after the Obama Administration announced in February that it viewed the law as unconstitutional and could no longer defend it in court.
According to a 2004 report from the Congressional Budget Office, federal individual income and estate tax revenues would actually increase $700 million per year if DOMA did not mandate the nonrecognition of marriages of same-sex couples. Recent polling from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that a majority of Americans oppose DOMA and the Republicans’ defense of it in court.
DOMA singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law. Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples. Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people—thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. The Supreme Court announced last week that it would be taking up United States v. Windsor, which questions the constitutionality of DOMA.
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