130 House members, led by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD), filed an amicus brief today making a federal case against the Defense of Marriage Act’s constitutionality. The brief weighs in on the legal challenge that Karen Golinski made against DOMA when she filed a lawsuit seeking access to equal health benefits for her wife — a case that has reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal district court ruled in Golinski’s favor and declared DOMA unconstitutional.
The congress members offer a direct challenge to the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group’s (BLAG) Republican members, who hired lawyers to defend DOMA’s constitutionality against increasing attacks in court. A release from Pelosi’s office summarizes the brief’s major arguments, including the crucial facts that BLAG does not speak for the entire House of Representatives and that DOMA directly harms American families:
Unlike most Acts of Congress, DOMA cannot be viewed as the rational result of impartial lawmaking and should be treated with judicial skepticism. The brief makes it clear that the House is not united on DOMA’s validity, that the BLAG lawyers do not speak for the entire institution, and that there is no legitimate federal interest in denying married same-sex couples the legal security, rights and responsibilities that federal law provides to couples who are married under state law. …This law affirmatively harms married gay and lesbian couples and their children.
Nadler’s leadership and the coalition of House Democrats’ support are important examples of legislators standing up for the legal rights of the LGBT community. The House of Representatives has its fair share of champions for LGBT rights, and their work has the potential to make a difference in the lives of countless families in the LGBT community who are fighting for the same rights that heterosexual couples already enjoy.