Defense of Marriage Act Discriminates According to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

You may be interested to read the opinion from Windsor v. United States, handed down on October 8, 2012.  The Court ruled that section three of DOMA, which is subject to intermediate scrutiny, violates equal protection and therefore is unconstitutional.  Section 3 reads:

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

1. U.S.C. section 7.  An interesting side note is the United States actually switched sides in this litigation, moving from defending the Act to siding with Windsor and advocating that the statute be ruled unconstitutional.  The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (“BLAG”) took over defending the Act. 

In order to determine that DOMA was subject to intermediate scrutiny, the Court looked at a variety of factors.  The Court points out that the history of discrimination towards homosexuals is not easily debated and that homosexuals have clearly suffered.  Keep in mind that the Lawrence v. Texas opinion was handed down less than a decade ago. 

The Court makes analogies to illegitimacy (which receives intermediate scrutiny) in order to demonstrate that homosexuality is a distinguishing characteristic to define a minority class.  Also, the Court does not agree with BLAG in their argument that homosexuals have a diminished ability to discharge family roles. 

BLAG was left to make the argument that section three of DOMA was substantially related to an important government interest.  The Court is not persuaded by the argument that section three is necessary to maintain a uniform definition of marriage, nor the argument that the definition protects governmental resources.  The Court quickly disposes of BLAG’s other arguments, and affirm’s Windsor’s motion for summary judgment.

Decisions like these are extremely important to understand in order to help gain momentum for various other homosexual rights which are being fought for daily.