Federal DOMA Hearing In Boston Update – Day One

In a press release from GLAD about the hearing today in a federal court in Boston. GLAD is arguing that section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional. The Obama administration’s Department of Justice is defending DOMA and actually had the nerve to send Scott Simpson who wrote the horrid DOMA incest/pedophilia brief last June. Good to know that who DOJ has fighting against our rights in Boston.

“This is a classic equal protection issue. The Constitution applies to gay and lesbian citizens, and married ones, too,” Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director, told the Court. “What governmental purpose does the US have as an employer in treating some of its married employees, retirees and surviving annuitants differently from other married persons, such that Nancy Gill pays for a self and family plan like some of her married colleagues, but the plan doesn’t cover her own spouse?”

Bonauto presented a three-pronged legal argument: By singling out only the marriages of same-sex couples, DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution; DOMA represents an unprecedented intrusion of the federal government into marriage law, which for 230 years has been legislated by states; and by denying federal protections to families, DOMA burdens the marriages of same-sex couples and their right to maintain family integrity.

U.S. District Court Judge, Joseph L. Tauro, vigorously questioned plaintiffs and defendants in a courtroom packed with supporters and media. Judge Tauro heard GLAD’s motion for summary judgment as well as the federal government’s motion to dismiss. The hearing addressed the core issue of whether DOMA Section 3 is constitutional six years after the first same-sex couples in the country started marrying in Massachusetts, the result of GLAD’s groundbreaking marriage case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.\

Here Bay Windows does initial reporting includes this passage about the DOJ’s argument:

Justice Department lawyer Scott Simpson, representing the defendants, and Judge Tauro started talking over one another almost right away during Simpson’s opening statement. Simpson tried to present DOMA in a “historical context,” saying that the status quo was not the separation of federal and state governments, but rather, heterosexual marriage, and that DOMA was trying to preserve this status quo. He went on to detail how federal recognition of same-sex marriage would confuse federal government programs that heretofore have not recognized same-sex married couples, a supposition which was quickly rebuffed by Judge Tauro. “The matter is so complex it would be a burden on the federal government?” the Judge asked.

Judge Tauro similarly challenged Simpson’s interpretation of heterosexual marriage being the status quo prior to DOMA. “That was a circumstance,” the judge said, “there was no law.”

Simpson was quoted by the AP calling gay marriage an “experiment”,

If Simpson’s arguments are of the quality he displayed in “that brief,” then this should be a slam-dunk. The man’s an fucking idiot.  And so is Barack Obama for letting the Department of Justice defend this law when it did not have to.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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