House Democrats file anti-DOMA amicus brief

More than 140 House Democrats today filed an amicus brief against the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) to bolster litigation challenging the anti-marriage-equality law. Read more here.

The brief was filed in the case of Edith Schlain Windsor v. United States of America, which has reached the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit following a U.S. District Court ruling that a key section of DOMA is unconstitutional.

Edie Windsor, 83, challenged DOMA in court after the federal government taxed her more than $363,000 when her spouse, Thea Spyer, died in 2009. The couple had married in 2007 after more than 40 years together. When Spyer died, the federal government treated the spouses as strangers due to DOMA, greatly reducing Edie’s inheritance by depriving her of the marital deduction that otherwise allows a married couple to pass property to the surviving spouse without tax penalty.

The Obama administration announced last year that it would no longer defend DOMA, saying the law was unconstitutional. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) convened an advisory panel to direct the House General Counsel to defend DOMA in court.

Today brief’s addresses how DOMA undermines Congress’s legitimate interests, and says, in part:

It is impossible to believe that any legitimate federal interest is rationally served by depriving a widow like [Edie] Windsor of the marital deduction that allows married couples to pass property to the surviving spouse without penalty, thus maximizing the survivor’s financial well-being.

Read the full brief here.

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey says:

Brick by brick, the wall of marriage discrimination is coming down. Yet certain members of Congress are doing whatever they can to buttress it. In defending the indefensible DOMA, they play with people’s lives, squander taxpayer dollars, and belittle our country’s deeply held values of freedom and fairness. It is heartening to see the many House members who have instead chosen to support fairness and families over divisiveness and discrimination by signing onto this amicus brief.