The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA says the government recognizes only those marriages between a man and a woman. When the law passed 15 years ago, not one state recognized same-sex marriage. Six do now, as well as DC. Democrat Dianne Feinstein [pic] is sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act, which would entirely repeal DOMA. Each of the Judiciary Committee’s 10 Democrats voted for the repeal; all eight Republicans were opposed. For now, any change in the law is likely to come through the courts.
The Obama administration’s recent position is that the federal law forbidding government recognition of same-sex unions is unconstitutional. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said government lawyers decided this week that letting gay and lesbian couples jointly petition for bankruptcy protection is consistent with that stance. The shift stems from a California couple who got married when it was briefly legal in 2008 before the state’s voters passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. A U.S. bankruptcy trustee initially fought the men on the grounds that the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibited it. Obama’s stance on DOMA also was cited this week by a federal appeals court in San Francisco that ordered the Pentagon to immediately stop enforcing the 17-year-old law that prohibits gay men, lesbians and bisexuals from serving openly in the armed forces.
[via The AP]
The Obama administration supports a lesbian federal employee who has filed a lawsuit claiming the government wrongly denied health coverage to her same-sex spouse.
The Justice Department said in a brief filed in federal court that Karen Golinski’s suit should not be dismissed because the law under which her spouse is denied benefits – the Defense of Marriage Act – is unconstitutional.
According to the Justice Department, the marriage act was motivated by animosity toward gays and lesbians and their intimate relationships and violates the constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.
A law firm hired by Republicans is dropping its work defending the federal ban on marriage equality amid criticism by advocacy groups.
King & Spalding chairman Robert Hays Jr. said that the Atlanta-based firm had filed a motion to withdraw from its involvement in fighting challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA].
The Republican leadership of the U.S. House had retained one of the firm’s lawyers after the Obama administration directed the U.S. Justice Department to stop defending the law in court. Several gay rights groups had planned a news conference to protest the firm’s involvement in the case.
The Human Rights Campaign released its 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate questionnaire. The results provide insight about the current candidates for President.
For the first time ever, all of the announced Democratic candidates stated their support for extending federal benefits and equal tax treatment to same-sex couples who are parties to a union legally recognized by their state. The candidates also expressed unanimous support for extending federal benefits for same-sex couples and their children.