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House Republican leadership ask SCOTUS to review Defense of Marriage Act Case

I guess these bigots have nothing better to do, you know, since the economy is fixed and all. After this week’s spanking on Obamacare, it’s back to distractions, and now the GOP wants to place TEH GAY on the front burner of the U.S. Supreme Court.  House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his pals on the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group [BLAG includes Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)] are asking SCOTUS to weigh in on a section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Via Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly:

The Republican-led House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group today mailed its petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to review the May 31 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that the federal definition of marriage contained in the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

In a filing obtained by Metro Weekly, BLAG asks the Supreme Court, which must agree to consider the case, to take the appeal for three reasons: (1) the constitutionality of DOMA Section 3 is “an issue of great national importance” and raises separation-of-powers questions; (2) the First Circuit decision conflicts with the Supreme Court’s 1972 decision in Baker v. Nelson and other appellate decisions; and (3) the First Circuit “invented a new standard of equal protection review.”

…BLAG is asking the Supreme Court to consider two questions: (1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; and (2) Whether the court below erred by inventing and applying to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act a previously unknown standard of equal protection review.

The original claims against DOMA were brought by seven married same-sex couples and three widowers from Massachusetts.  Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) represents the plaintiffs in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management. Mary Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director and lead attorney:

“We will look closely at the petition and will consider our options.  We remain convinced that our clients deserve to be treated equally under the law and have their marriages respected by their government.  Two federal courts have agreed with us so far.”

You might recall that the Obama DOJ is no longer defending Section 3 of the 1996 law. In terms of options, the involved parties have 30 days to file their perspective on whether SCOTUS should take up the case. According to Geidner:

The court then will consider whether it wants to take the case, a question most scholars expect it to answer in the affirmative as the constitutionality of a federal statute is at issue. It could, however, hold the case in order to await a decision on one of the further DOMA challenges.

Related:  Prop 8 Trial Tracker: House Republicans appeal Gill/Massachusetts DOMA case to Supreme Court.


While on the subject of marriage, this amusing story at Mother Jones caught my eye:

The GOP’s Dead-End Marriage Program
The research is in on a high-priced Bush-era initiative to promote marriage to poor people. It’s time for a divorce.

I had forgotten about this ludicrous program; why is it no surprise that this program, popular with the bedroom-peeping GOP moralists, isn’t working.

Originally championed by Republican lawmakers including Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and current Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a federal initiative to promote marriage as a cure for poverty dumped hundreds of millions of dollars into programs that either had no impact or a negative effect on the relationships of the couples who took part, according to recent research by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Launched during the Bush administration at the behest of evangelical Christian activists and with the aid of congressional Republicans, the federal Healthy Marriage Initiative was designed to help low-income couples put a little sizzle in their marriages and urge poor unmarried parents to tie the knot, in the hopes that marriage would enhance their finances and get them off the federal dole. Starting in 2006, millions of dollars were hastily distributed to grantees to further this poverty reduction strategy.

The marriage money was diverted from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (formerly known as welfare), and much of it went to religious groups that went to work trying to combat the divorce rate in their communities by sponsoring date nights and romance workshops.

…Studies show that relationship classes can be helpful for white, middle-class couples, but when the federal government started dumping million of poverty dollars into marriage education, there was virtually no research on how such programs would fare with poor, inner-city single moms.

In other words, the target demographic really had no chance of benefiting from these programs because, well, if you have to choose between romance workshops and putting food on the table, which do you think will take priority? #FAIL.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding