News Shaun Knittel Uncategorized — 13 September 2012
Obama Presses Supreme Court on Gay Marriage

By Shaun Knittel
Online News Editor

The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to consider two more cases challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), on Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed two similar requests in July.

DOMA is the 1996 law which prohibits federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of same-sex couples. Because of the “gay exception” created by DOMA, America’s legally married gay and lesbian couples are denied 1,100+ federal responsibilities and protections including Social Security survivor’s benefits, equal treatment under U.S. immigration laws, and the opportunity to take leave to care for a spouse.

One of the cases submitted Tuesday involves Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian who received an estate bill of more than $360,000 after the death of her wife Thea Spyer. Windsor sued, arguing that DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution. If the high court agrees to take the case, the lawsuit would bypass consideration before an appeals court.

The second case involves six gay married couples and one widower who allege they have been denied federal benefits because of the law. Lead plaintiff Joanne Pedersen, a federal retiree, was denied when she attempted to add her wife Ann Meitzen to her health insurance.

In July, a federal judge in Connecticut sided with plaintiffs, concluding that DOMA violates equal protection guarantees.

The House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) has intervened in at least 12 DOMA-related cases – including Pedersen – since President Barack Obama instructed the Department of Justice to no longer defend the law in court.


About Author

Shaun Knittel

Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist living in Seattle, WA. He spent 10 years working in U.S. Navy public affairs and is a veteran of the Iraq war and war on terror. His work as a writer, editor, and photographer has appeared in noiZe Magazine, Blog, EDGE Media Network, Rising Republic Magazine, Star & Stripes, and more. Knittel currently serves as the Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News, Seattle's LGBT News & Entertainment weekly, and as the News Editor at OutServe Magazine. See more from this contributor.

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