White House Brief Makes Strong Case for Gay Rights

Urges Supreme Court to kill DOMA, suggests Obama will weigh in on Prop 8 case, too
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2013 6:07 AM CST
White House Brief Makes Strong Case for Gay Rights
A 2012 file photo of Edith Windsor, whose dispute with the IRS has led to a Supreme Court fight on gay rights.   (Associated Press)

The White House looks poised to make a robust defense of gay marriage before the Supreme Court. The first step came yesterday when the Justice Department filed a legal brief urging the court to declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, reports CNN. DOMA defines a marriage as a union between a man and a woman and denies federal benefits to gay spouses, even if states grant them. "Moral opposition to homosexuality, though it may reflect deeply held personal views, is not a legitimate policy objective that can justify unequal treatment of gay and lesbian people," said the brief, which concludes that the act violates the Constitution's "fundamental guarantee of equal protection," reports the Huffington Post.

Arguments in the case, involving a New York woman suing the IRS over estate taxes, will be heard next month. (House Republicans have hired a lawyer to defend the government's position because the White House no longer supports DOMA.) Politico notes that the language in the legal brief is so strong and "sweeping" that it suggests the White House is going to weigh in on a second case before the court next month, that one on the legality of California's Prop 8, which banned same-sex marriage. The White House must decide by Thursday on whether to do so. Click for the full text of the legal brief. (More Defense of Marriage Act stories.)

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