The tide in the fight for marriage equality in the United States may be turning as the Obama administration throws its support behind no longer defending Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The Court will hear oral arguments on March 26 and 27, with decisions expected by late June.
What is Section 3? Here’s a summary:
Issue: (1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State; (2) whether the Executive Branch’s agreement with the court below that DOMA is unconstitutional deprives this Court of jurisdiction to decide this case; and (3) whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives has Article III standing in this case.
According to MSNBC:
The brief was filed Friday in United States v. Windsor, a case challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the law that legally declares marriage to be only between a man and a woman. That section allows state and federal authorities to deny benefits to same-sex couples that are commonplace for heterosexual couples, like insurance for government workers and Social Security survivors' benefits.
The brief was signed by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the government's chief trial lawyer. It states:
"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."
Read more here: Same-sex marriage: DOMA briefs (FINAL UPDATE).