Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly has a report about a move the Obama Department of Justice made yesterday. The DOJ filed a brief arguing against the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group's request to dismiss the constitutional challenge of the Defense of Marirage Act, brought by Karen Golinski and Lambda Legal in the Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management.
The brief is an expansive 31-page piece of fierce advocacy arguing that heighten scrutiny should apply to DOMA and it fails to meet the criteria necessary to survive. From Geidner's piece:
In describing why heightened scrutiny applies to classifications based on sexual orientation, the DOJ's lawyers — in describing how “gays and lesbians have been subject to a history of discrimination” — write, “The federal government has played a significant and regrettable role in the history of discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals.” The filing then goes on to detail the 1950 Senate resolution seeking an “investigation” into “homosexuals and other sexual perverts” in government employement, President Dwight Eisenhower's executive order adding “sexual perversion” as a ground for “possible dismissal from government service,” in the brief's words. It details the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Service in investigations seeking information about government employees suspected of such “perversion.”
This is a welcome and rarely seen mea culp from our Federal Government in its role in perpetuating and validating discrimination against any Americans.
It's notable, too, that this language choice is entirely discretionary. The Department of Justice could filed a perfunctory brief and let the BLAG and Lambda Legal slug it out alone. Many presumed that was the course these cases might take.
That they have chosen to very actively, affirmatively engage in the fight for equality under the law is a very welcome turn around from the DOJ's unfortunate stance of 2009.
This is a BFD.
Joe Solomnese of Human Right Campaign has this to say:
“The Administration's decision to call DOMA what it is — a law that serves no purpose but to single out a group of people for second-class status — was a watershed moment in the fight for LGBT equality. Now the federal government has taken that historic stand a step further and put real meat on the bones of why there is no basis for DOMA to stand. This step represents real leadership from the Obama administration and further hastens the day in which we will leave this odious law in the dustbin of history.”
And he's right. Cheers to President Obama and Attorney General Holder for this move.
I encourage you to read Chris Geidner's article in it's entirety. And stay tuned. These DOMA fight is about to get real interesting.