Today the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss Gill v. Office of Personnel Development, GLAD’s lawsuit challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA Sec. 3 prevents the federal government from recognizing legally married couples if the spouses aren’t of different sexes.
As in other DOMA-related filings from the Obama administration, the DOJ insists that it is required to defend DOMA, even though the president deems it onerous.
As the President has stated previously, this Administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal. Consistent with the rule of law, however, the Department of Justice has long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the Department disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here.
Nothing in the government’s brief is unexpected, and nothing in it addresses the fact that DOMA is the sole exception in a long history of the federal government deferring to the states’ determination that people are married. We disagree with any argument that DOMA is constitutional. Married same-sex couples are being treated differently from other married couples. To us, that’s a clear-cut violation of the promise of equal protection.
This case is about seeking justice for the widows and widowers who are denied death benefits, for people who can’t get on their spouse’s health plan, for parents who can’t file taxes jointly and pay thousands extra each year that they could put away for their children’s education or family emergencies. We’re pleased that the issues have now been joined and the case is moving toward resolution, because every day, an increasing number of families – not just our plaintiffs – are being harmed by DOMA.
We’re proud of this case the National Law Journal has called “carefully planned” and the case with the potential to have “the greatest national impact”. There’s a long road ahead, and we will keep you posted of all the developments along the way.
Here’s what happens next, according to an e-mail from GLAD.
So, at this point we have 14 days to file an opposition to the motion dismiss. The government will then file a reply to our opposition. After that, our first hearing will be scheduled, and we can expect that to take place early next year. Having said all of that, it’s possible that both sides will get and receive extensions on that schedule.
In other words, stay tuned.