VA Senator Warner Signs onto DOMA Amicus Brief
Virginia Senator Mark Warner has joined 39 other Senators and 172 members of the House in signing an amicus brief supporting the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.
“To me, repeal of DOMA is an issue of fairness,” said Warner in a statement released today. “Under DOMA, committed relationships legally recognized by some states are made financially and legally unequal in many ways: taxes, inheritance, insurance benefits, and a thousand other rights and benefits that the federal government routinely grants to other married couples.”
DOMA was signed in 1996 and defines a marriage as a union between one man and one women for all federal and interstate commerce purposes.
Eight Federal Courts have found section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional, one of those cases, U.S. v. Windsor, was selected to be heard by the Supreme Court.
U.S. v. Windsor is the case of Edith “Edie” Windsor who was forced to pay a $363,000 estate tax on her inheritance after her long time partner’s death. Windsor and her partner, Thea Spyer, had been together for 40 years. If federal law had recognized their marriage, Windsor would have paid no taxes on the inheritance.
Thea Spyer and Edie Windsor via NewNowNext
15 states, and numerous conservative and religious groups have filed briefs supporting DOMA. One such brief, filed by a former United States solicitor general, Paul Clement, on behalf of the GOP lead Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) of the U.S. House, states that gays and lesbians are a powerful lobbying group that do not deserve “judicial intervention.”
“In short, gays and lesbians are one of the most influential, best-connected, best-funded, and best-organized interest groups in modern politics, and have attained more legislative victories, political power, and popular favor in less time than virtually any other group in American history.”
“There is absolutely no reason to think that gays and lesbians are shut out of the political process to a degree that would justify judicial intervention on an issue as divisive and fast moving as same-sex marriage.”
Recent polling numbers have shown a majority of Americans believe DOMA is discriminatory legislation. Center for American Progress and Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders conducted the poll which found %59 of Americans oppose DOMA, and %52 support same sex marraige.
CNBC host Suze Orman recently penned an OpEd piece for CNN.com supporting the repeal of DOMA. She too cited future issues with inheritance as one of her major concerns. Orman has been with her partner Kathy Travis for 12 years. “If the federal government recognized same-sex marriage, then when one of us dies our assets would seamlessly transfer free of tax to the survivor. That’s a basic right that every heterosexual married couple has.”
President Obama has also shown his support for the repeal of DOMA. In a statement released last week, the administration said DOMA violated fundamental guarantees of equal protection:
“The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples. Because this discrimination cannot be justified as substantially furthering any important governmental interest, Section 3 is unconstitutional.”
The court hearing for Prop 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban, and DOMA are scheduled for March 26 and 27.
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