Two Detroit-area nurses filed a lawsuit to try to overturn restrictions on adoption by same-sex partners. But at the judge’s invitation, the case took an extraordinary turn and now will test the legality of a 2004 constitutional amendment that stipulates Michigan only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman. U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman will hear arguments in the case Thursday at a Detroit law school. If he concludes the amendment violates the U.S. Constitution, gay-marriage supporters say same-sex couples would immediately be allowed to wed and adopt children. State officials, of course are predicting “potential legal chaos” if the judge throws out the gay marriage ban.
Friedman will hear arguments on the state’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. In a court filing, the Michigan attorney general’s office said there’s no “fundamental right to same-sex marriage.”
“Michigan’s marriage amendment bears a reasonable relation to legitimate state interests,” the state said. “Michigan supports natural procreation and recognizes that children benefit from being raised by parents of each sex who can then serve as role models of the sexes both individually and together in matrimony. Plaintiffs fail to allege facts showing there is no rational basis for these legitimate state interests.”
Why would a state care if people procreate? Couples don’t procreate to benefit the state. Even if the state cared about married couples with children, that isn’t an argument against marriage equality. How are the private decisions of the public any of the state’s business? Procreation is also not a requirement to getting married. So any theories about parenting and role models are irrelevant. Not to mention denying unwanted children loving homes.
Despite wasting over $1.5 million dollars of tax payers money John Boehner and House Republicans have spent to pay private attorney Paul Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general under the Bush administration, to defend DOMA, again today they were dealt another loss as the U.S. Second Circuit of Appeals has upheld and earlier ruling in the Edith Windsor versus the United States of America that DOMA the Defense of Marriage Act is indeed unconstitutional.
Legally the case is about the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 While Windsor was treated as her spouse under New York State law, and she was allowed to inherit what her spouse had left her without being taxed, the same as any heterosexual surviving spouse.
But under federal law, it was a very different story. Under DOMA, the United States government does not recognize marriages between members of the same gender, and thus will not confer any legal spousal benefits to homosexuals, including the ability to sponsor a foreign partner, file taxes jointly, or bequeath property without taxation. So Windsor was ordered by the IRS to pay $360,000 by the IRS.
A federal district court agreed with them—one of five such district-court losses the anti-gay law has suffered—handing Windsor her first legal victory.
But House Speaker John Boehner instructed the (un) Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) to defend the law in court and appealed it to the Second Circuit.
And today the Second Circuit applied heightened scrutiny, or “intermediate scrutiny” as they called it in the opinion to uphold the federal district courts finding that DOMA is indeed unconstitutional with one judge concurring in parts and dissenting in others, writing that the law would be constitutional if reviewed under the more lenient rational basis standard of review.
Note of interest. Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, who is one of the most conservative judges on the Second Circuit wrote the opinion.
The ACLU Press Release:
A federal appeals court ruled today that the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) unconstitutionally discriminates against married same-sex couples. In striking down DOMA, the court held that government discrimination against lesbians and gay men now is assumed to be unconstitutional and that DOMA’s defenders could not offer any good reason for treating married same-sex couples differently from all other married couples. This is the first federal appeals court decision to decide that government discrimination against gay people gets a more exacting level of judicial review, known as “heightened scrutiny.” The law had been challenged by Edith “Edie” Windsor, who sued the federal government for failing to recognize her marriage to her partner Thea Spyer, after Spyer’s death in 2009. Windsor and Spyer, who were a couple for 44 years, were married in Canada in 2007, and were considered married by their home state of New York. “This law violated the fundamental American principle of fairness that we all cherish,” said Windsor. “I know Thea would have been so proud to see how far we have come in our fight to be treated with dignity.”
In her lawsuit, Windsor argued that DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution because it requires the government to treat same-sex couples who are legally married as strangers. Windsor’s lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union
In the filings to the Supreme Court for the cases Golinski v. Office of Personnel management and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services General Donald Verrilli Jr., the DOJ’s top appellate litigator, argues that a single question is presented by the cases, which the Supreme Court should accept the cases to answer: “Whether Section 3 of DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons.
Since February 2011, DOJ has stopped defending Section 3 of DOMA, following a determination by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder that the law is unconstitutional and explains its reasons for asking the Supreme Court to hear the cases:
Although the Executive Branch agrees with the district court’s determination in this case that Section 3 is unconstitutional, we respectfully seek this Court’s review so that the question may be authoritatively decided by this Court. As explained above, to ensure that the Judiciary is the final arbiter of Section 3’s constitutionality, the President has instructed Executive departments and agencies to continue to enforce Section 3 until there is a definitive judicial ruling that Section 3 is unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court then will consider whether it wants to take the case after it returns from its summer recess, a question most expect it to be yes since the constitutionality of a federal statute is at issue and appears to be likely after today’s filings.
You can read the Department of Justices letter and petition HERE:
The country’s broke and in debt, or so the GOP and Tea Party says but that hasn’t stopped John Boehner and the ReTHUGlican party from tripling the budget to defend the unconstitutional Defense Of Marriage Act.
A modified contract between the General Counsel to the House of Representatives and former Solicitor General Paul Clement of Bancroft PLLC sets a cap of $750,000 which can be raised up to $1.5 million. “It is absolutely unconscionable that Speaker Boehner is tripling the cost for his legal boondoggle to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, said in a statement. “At a time when Americans are hurting and job creation should be the top priority, it just shows how out of touch House Republicans have become that they would spend up to $1.5 million dollars to defend discrimination in our country,” Hammill continued.
Financial hysteria, draconian spending cuts, and supremely hypocritical Republican Leadership to spend additional taxpayer dollars on the unwarranted, unconstitutional and unnecessary defense of DOMA.
You better start crying now BONER we’re coming for you in November!
On June 29th, 2009, Former Democratic Wisconsin Governor Doyle signed domestic partnerships into law in Wisconsin making Wisconsin the first state in the Midwest to legislatively enact extensive protections for same-sex couples including: The transfers of real estate between domestic partners, inherit from the estate of domestic partner who dies without a will, and employees who are covered by the state Family Medical Leave Act may take up to 2 weeks off per year to care for a domestic partner even though Wisconsin has a constitutional amendment banning both marriage equality and civil unions. (For a full summary of the domestic partnership protections, see the Legislative Fiscal Bureau paper🙂
Since the enactment of Domestic partnership legislature it has been challenged by anti-gay groups such as Wisconsin Family Action claiming that the registry be declared unconstitutional to no avil. But now GOP Governor and Koch Brothers butt boy Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has told a judge he wants to stop defending that state’s domestic partner registry in court because he doesn’t believe it’s constitutional.
“Darth Walker” has filed a motion asking to withdraw the defense entirely.
“If the governor determines that defending a law would be contrary to the state’s constitution, he cannot order the defense of the law because of his oath to support the Wisconsin Constitution,“ Walker’s attorney, Brian Hagedorn, wrote in the motion. “To allow the previous administration’s analysis to bind a subsequent administration would be contrary to what justice requires.“
Lambda Legal has joined Fair Wisconsin and several same-sex couples in the fight to ensure the domestic partner registry remains in Wisconsin as of this time over 1,500 same-sex couples have registered for the partnership
President Obama has been called everything from a Communist to Satan for deciding not to defend DOMA by the Republican party. Will they say the same of Walker for not defending Domestic Partnerships?
Over 80 U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia were disciplined after refusing to attend a “spiritual fitness” Christian-rock concert put on by the Army music events instituted by born-again Christian Gen. James E. Chambers, according to an article on the Army’s web site. But according to many soilders the events often involve Bible readings and testimonies from evangelicals.
“They call them ‘spiritual’ events, but the vast majority of spiritual events are Christian-based,” Pvt. Anthony Smith, who was one of the soliders who were pinished said
On May 13, Smith and his company were “required” to march in formation to a concert headlined by an evangelical Christian rock band. No option was presented to us off the bat,” Smith told Truth-out.org about the required concert. The group Smith marched with included at least two Muslim soldiers who fell out of rank and stopped marching on their own. Once outside the concert, Smith and the others were finally given an option and told to split into two groups: those who wanted to attend, and those who did not. Smith and about 80 others decided not to attend, even though they were obviously being “pressured” to do so. Smith and the others were sent back to their barracks on “lockdown,” a punishment that Smith said withholds even basic freedoms like using their own electronics.
Smith and another anonymous soldier filed an Equal Opportunity (EO) complaint against their commanding officers, but Smith said the complaint fell on deaf ears. Now after weeks weeks of refiling complaints and reaching out to the media the Army now says the Pentagon will investigate soldiers’ claims that they were punished for refusing to attend the Christian-themed concert.
Using government funding for something like this is clearly unconstitutional. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Christian superiors often force religion down people’s throats with prayers at every possible event.
Today set the stage for two HUGE victories for gay marriage, as a federal judge in Boston ruled that section three of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is INDEED unconstitutional.
Both cases were argued, separately, in May,and today the decisons were reached.
Massachusetts, Judge Joseph Tauro ruled that Congress violated the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it passed DOMA and took from the states decisions concerning which couples can be considered married. In the other, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, he ruled DOMA violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
And in the second case Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services, Tauro ruled that the federal law’s definition of marriage — one man and one woman — violates state sovereignty by treating some couples with Massachusetts’ marriage licenses differently than others. In Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), a gay legal group, asked Tauro to consider whether DOMA violates the right of eight same-sex couples to equal protection of the law
This also means the Department of Justice, OPM and HHS lost today. And they’will have to decide if they want to appeal it which given the current climate of LGBT rights relations and the Obama administration and will undoubtedly have HUGE ramifications either way.