Fighting DOMA in the Courts and the Legislature
While moving ahead with two legal challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), GLAD has produced the publications, How DOMA Hurts Americans and DOMA Stories: Federal Marriage Discrimination Hurts Families, in support of efforts to repeal the law legislatively.
On Friday GLAD filed a motion for summary judgment in Pedersen v. OPM, the Second Circuit case challenging the constitutionality of DOMA’s federal definition of marriage. GLAD argues that the equal protection claims of the plaintiffs, six married couples and one widower from Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire, require heightened scrutiny from the court. The brief shows how DOMA fails heightened scrutiny, or even a rational basis review. GLAD’s First Circuit DOMA challenge Gill v. OPM won a July 8, 2010 ruling in Massachusetts federal district court that DOMA is unconstitutional. That case is now on appeal.
Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate will hold the first ever hearing on repealing DOMA legislatively. To help the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee understand the magnitude of DOMA’s harm, GLAD has produced two publications. How DOMA Hurts Americans provides an overview and analysis of the federal programs, benefits and responsibilities from which same-sex married couples are excluded under the law. DOMA Stories: Federal Marriage Discrimination Hurts Families tells the stories of 20 same-sex married couples and widowers from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont.
DOMA Stories, distributed to every member of the Judiciary Committee, shows the wide array of issues couples and families face because of DOMA: being deemed ineligible to sponsor their spouse for citizenship or be buried with a spouse in a veterans cemetery; being denied Family Medical Leave, health insurance for a spouse, Social Security survivor benefits or a late spouse’s pension; and being burdened with higher taxes that their opposite-sex married neighbors don’t have to pay.
Andrew Sorbo, one of the widowers profiled in the book, was invited to testify at tomorrow’s hearing and GLAD helped him prepare to share his story of losing his partner of 30 years, Colin Atterbury, and how DOMA meant his income dropped by 80% after Colin’s death. Andrew will be joined at the hearing by Pedersen plaintiffs Suzanne and Geraldine Artis and their three sons, along with attorney Mary Bonauto.