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Saying that "it was a different world for gay men and lesbians" in 1996 when the Defense of Marriage Act passed, Congressional Democrats have filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, arguing that the law must be overturned.

The brief is submitted by the leadership of both the House and Senate Democratic caucuses, along with the co-chairs of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, on behalf of 212 Democratic members of Congress. That includes 25 members who voted for DOMA back in 1996. These members wanted the court to "hear the full story from Congress, and to explain why they believe that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional," and to inform the court that while the House majority Republicans have continued the defense of the case, the entire Congress is not in agreement. They argue:

When Congress enacted DOMA, gay and lesbian couples could not marry anywhere in the world. Some States still criminalized same-sex relationships, inviting further discrimination against gay men and lesbians in employment, family relations, and housing. Gay men and lesbians were still often portrayed as mentally unstable, sexually promiscuous, and morally deficient. In short, it was a different world for gay men and lesbians, and many were understandably reluctant to speak openly about themselves or their families. A number of Members, like the constituents we serve, did not personally know many (if any) people who were openly gay, and majority attitudes toward that minority group were often viscerally fearful and negative.

As a result, when the question of same-sex marriage arose in 1996, reflexive beliefs and discomfort about same-sex relationships dominated congressional debate. From our perspective—including those of us who voted for DOMA—debate and passage of the law did not necessarily arise “from malice or hostile animus,” but instead from “insensitivity caused by simple want of careful, rational reflection or from some instinctive mechanism to guard against people who appear to be different in some respects from ourselves.”

They argue that Section 3 of DOMA, the provision that same-sex marriages will not be recognized by the federal government for all federal purposes, (insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors' benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns) is "a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee and should be struck down." Eight federal courts have agreed.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:39 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (25+ / 0-)

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:39:47 PM PST

  •  Thank heaven they MET some of us (10+ / 0-)

    In case anyone is wondering if there is any efficacy in coming out beside the weight it lifts from one's own shoulders, here's proof. This is also why this will end up with full national marriage equality, I hope during my lifetime.

    Now on to ENDA.

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall (h/t cooper888)

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:00:23 PM PST

    •  Just about a decade ago, (3+ / 0-)

      I thought we'd never end up with marriage equality in my lifetime -- now it's looking closer and closer, if not with this current SCOTUS then in the not too distant future with an actual challenge to same sex marriage bans under full faith and credit.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 02:17:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's a good brief (6+ / 0-)

    Argues for a finding that laws classifying on the basis of sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny but that DOMA fails even rational basis.

    Even better, some of the people who signed the brief voted in favor of DOMA in 1996. This is noted. Those folks are admitting they made a mistake. Not a typical thing for a politician to do.

  •  As for the Democrats who DIDN'T sign the brief (5+ / 0-)

    Here they are:


    Max Baucus (MT)

    Mark Begich (AK)

    Bob Casey, Jr. (PA)

    Joe Donnelly (IN)

    Kay Hagan (NC)

    Heidi Heitkamp (ND)

    Tim Johnson (SD)

    Mary Landrieu (LA)

    Carl Levin (MI)

    Joe Manchin (WV)

    Bill Nelson (FL)

    Mark Pryor (AR)

    Jack Reed (RI)

    Jay Rockefeller (WV)

    Tom Udall (NM)


    John Barrow (GA)

    Sanford Bishop (GA)

    G.K. Butterfield (NC)

    Jim Cooper (TN)

    Jim Costa (CA)

    Henry Cuellar (TX)

    Peter DeFazio (OR)

    William Enyart (IL)

    Pete Gallego (TX)

    Tom Graves (GA)

    Gene Green (TX)

    Rubén Hinojosa (TX)

    Ron Kind (WI)

    Rick Larsen (WA)

    Daniel Lipinski (IL)

    Ben Lujan (NM)

    Stephen Lynch (MA)

    Jim Mattheson (UT)

    Mike McIntyre (NC)

    Colin Peterson (MN)

    Nick Rahall (WV)

    Cedric Richmond (LA)

    Kurt Schrader (OR)

    David Scott (GA)

    Terri Sewell (AL)

    Bennie Thompson (MS)

    Filemon Vela (TX)

    Peter Visclosky (IN)

    Mel Watt (NC)

    Frederica Wilson (FL)

    Many are Conservadems; with others the situation is less apparent. Levin, Reed, DeFazio and Lujan are sponsors or co-sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act (maybe they felt signing the brief would be detrimental to the bill?) while Lynch's office indicated that his name should have been included on the brief but was excluded only because of an email glitch. As for those not covered, who can say. Maybe they still think support for gay rights is political poison. They're wrong of course.

    •  Split out... (4+ / 0-)

      Blue Dogs in the house that are on the list of not signing:

      Barrow, Bishop, Cooper, Costa, Cuellar, Gallego, Matheson, Mcintyre, Peterson, Schrader, Scott and Thompson

      Michaud(ME-2) and Sanchez(CA-47) did sign it.

      The other ones that sort of stand out:

      Senators Levin and Reed, but as you say that could be the RfMA. Casey and Udall are a little odd, but that could be religion (Catholic and LDS respectively)

      Out of the house members who aren't blue dogs or sponsors for the RfMA listed, the other ones that jump out from states that either have Marriage Equality or close are Rick Larsen (WA) and Lipinski (IL). Lipinski is far enough downstate that it isn't a huge surprise. I think Larsen may be an email glitch, he's got a multitude of pro-marriage equality stuff on the internet.

      •  Casey has said many times... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that he supports civil unions but not gay marriage.

        Pennsylvania is a rather complicated state. Although it is Democratic, there are large parts of the state with socially conservative Democrats and Independents who might vote for Casey because he's not totally in line with the Democrats on every social issue. I think he's been hurt somewhat with them by not being batsh*t insane (he supports family planning, for example) but I suspect he still pulls in enough support that the issue of gay marriage introduces some rather complictated decision making for him.

        And on top of it all, as you pointed out, Senator Casey is also Catholic.

  •  Ron Kind (WI-3), ouch... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SanFernandoValleyMom, skrekk

    He is considered for some to be a possible Democratic candidate for governor against Walker in 2014.  This will not help.

  •  DeFazio (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Heh? Not a blue dog so what's his problem?

  •  Asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think you mean the 14th Amendment, not the 5th. :D

  •  Too bad (0+ / 0-)

    we don't live in a democracy in which members of Congress can, like, change a law if they think it needs to be changed.

    That would be different.

    In Washington, whenever anyone does something wrong, everyone else gets punished.

    by Noziglia on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 02:25:20 PM PST

  •  Would they have voted for 1964 Civil Rights Act? (0+ / 0-)

    I wonder how many of these Democrats who are against signing this document would have also been against the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960's?

    How many of these Dems will later say, "oops, I have now evolved"?  US Senators always have to balance out the needs of their own states versus the needs of the nation as a whole.  But, at some point you have to stand up and state what your own heartfelt beliefs are and not worry about the political consequences.  

    All this document is saying is that DOMA is wrong.  It isn't the same as voting for marriage equality, although, yes, it does move the ball further down the court.  But, for Rockefeller, who is almost 80 years old and retiring, hmm, really, this is what you believe?  I'm just not buying it.

    Nelson in Florida and Reed in Rhode Island, wow, how lame on their parts.  Frankly, I don't see any reason for any of them not to vote for this.

    Marriage equality is coming sooner than most politicians realize.  You want to be on the wrong side of history?  

    I am not impressed with this group, particularly the Senators.  I am all for Dems from red states protecting their hides, but, this is just common decency.  

  •  "those of us who voted for DOMA" (0+ / 0-)

    shame on all of you


    Robert Laurence 'Bob' Barr Jr. (GA - ) (Out Of Office)

    Wayne A. Allard (CO - R) (Out Of Office)
    Spencer T. Bachus (AL - R)
    William P. 'Bill' Baker (CA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Cass Ballenger (NC - ) (Out Of Office)
    William E. 'Bill' Barrett (NE - R) (Out Of Office)
    Roscoe G. Bartlett (MD - R) (Out Of Office)
    Joe Linus Barton (TX - R)
    Michael 'Mike' Bilirakis (FL - R) (Out Of Office)
    Thomas J. 'Tom' Bliley Jr. (VA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Sonny Bono (CA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Samuel D. 'Sam' Brownback (KS - R) (Out Of Office)
    Ed Bryant (TN - R) (Out Of Office)
    Jim Bunning (KY - ) (Out Of Office)
    Dan L. Burton (IN - R) (Out Of Office)
    Stephen E. 'Steve' Buyer (IN - R) (Out Of Office)
    Herbert L. 'Sonny' Callahan (AL - ) (Out Of Office)
    Charles T. Canady (FL - R) (Out Of Office)
    Steven J. 'Steve' Chabot (OH - R)
    Clarence Saxby Chambliss (GA - ) (Out Of Office)
    Helen P. Chenoweth (ID - R) (Out Of Office)
    Jon Lynn Christensen (NE - R) (Out Of Office)
    Dick Chrysler (MI - R) (Out Of Office)
    Thomas Allen 'Tom' Coburn (OK - R) (Out Of Office)
    Mac Collins (GA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Larry Combest (TX - ) (Out Of Office)
    Wes Cooley (OR - R) (Out Of Office)
    Philip M. Crane (IL - ) (Out Of Office)
    Barbara L. Cubin (WY - R) (Out Of Office)
    Randall H. 'Duke' Cunningham (CA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Patsy Ann 'Pat' Danner (MO - D) (Out Of Office)
    Nathan Deal (GA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Jay W. Dickey (AR - ) (Out Of Office)
    Robert K. 'Bob' Dornan (CA - ) (Out Of Office)
    Bill Emerson (MO - R) (Out Of Office)
    Philip 'Phil' English (PA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Jack M. Fields Jr. (TX - R) (Out Of Office)
    David Funderburk (NC - R) (Out Of Office)
    Pete Geren (TX - D) (Out Of Office)
    Lindsey O. Graham (SC - R) (Out Of Office)
    Enid Greene (UT - R) (Out Of Office)
    Gilbert W. 'Gil' Gutknecht (MN - R) (Out Of Office)
    Tony P. Hall (OH - D) (Out Of Office)
    Melton D. 'Mel' Hancock (MO - R) (Out Of Office)
    James V. Hansen (UT - ) (Out Of Office)
    J. Dennis 'Denny' Hastert (IL - R) (Out Of Office)
    Richard 'Doc' Hastings (WA - R)
    James A. 'Jimmy' Hayes (LA - R) (Out Of Office)
    John David 'J.D.' Hayworth Jr. (AZ - R) (Out Of Office)
    Joel Hefley (CO - R) (Out Of Office)
    Fredrick Kenneth Fred' Heineman (NC - R) (Out Of Office)
    Van Hilleary (TN - R) (Out Of Office)
    Peter 'Pete' Hoekstra (MI - R) (Out Of Office)
    Martin R. Hoke (OH - R) (Out Of Office)
    John Nathan Hostettler (IN - R) (Out Of Office)
    Duncan L. Hunter (CA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Y. Tim Hutchinson (AR - R) (Out Of Office)
    Robert 'Bob' Inglis Sr. (SC - R) (Out Of Office)
    Ernest J. Istook Jr. (OK - R) (Out Of Office)
    Samuel Robert 'Sam' Johnson (TX - R)
    Walter Beaman Jones Jr. (NC - R)

    Jay C. Kim (CA - ) (Out Of Office)
    Joseph K. 'Joe' Knollenberg (MI - R) (Out Of Office)
    Ray H. LaHood (IL - R) (Out Of Office)
    Stephen 'Steve' Largent (OK - ) (Out Of Office)
    Ron Lewis (KY - R) (Out Of Office)
    John Linder (GA - R) (Out Of Office)
    William O. Lipinski (IL - ) (Out Of Office)
    Frank D. Lucas (OK - R)
    Donald A. 'Don' Manzullo (IL - R) (Out Of Office)
    Scott McInnis (CO - ) (Out Of Office)
    David M. McIntosh (IN - R) (Out Of Office)
    Jack Metcalf (WA - R) (Out Of Office)
    George Miller (CA - D)
    G.V. 'Sonny' Montgomery (MS - D) (Out Of Office)
    Suellen W. 'Sue' Myrick (NC - R) (Out Of Office)
    Robert William 'Bob' Ney (OH - R) (Out Of Office)
    Charles W. 'Charlie' Norwood Jr. (GA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Ronald C. 'Ron' Packard (CA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Paul Michael 'Mike' Parker (MS - ) (Out Of Office)
    William 'Bill' Paxon (NY - R) (Out Of Office)
    Collin C. Peterson (MN - D)
    Thomas E. 'Tom' Petri (WI - R)

    Robert J. 'Rob' Portman (OH - R) (Out Of Office)
    George P. Radanovich (CA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Nick Joe Rahall II (WV - D)
    Frank Duncan Riggs (CA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Dana T. Rohrabacher (CA - R)
    Joe Scarborough (FL - R) (Out Of Office)
    Andrea Seastrand (CA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Frank James 'Jim' Sensenbrenner Jr. (WI - R)
    Joseph R. 'Joe' Skeen (NM - R) (Out Of Office)
    Ike Skelton (MO - D) (Out Of Office)
    Linda A. Smith (WA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Lamar S. Smith (TX - R)
    Christopher H. 'Chris' Smith (NJ - R)
    Nick Smith (MI - ) (Out Of Office)
    Gerald B.H. 'Jerry' Solomon (NY - R) (Out Of Office)
    Mark Edward Souder (IN - R) (Out Of Office)
    Floyd Davidson Spence (SC - R) (Out Of Office)
    Clifford Bundy 'Cliff' Stearns (FL - R) (Out Of Office)
    Charles W. 'Charlie' Stenholm (TX - ) (Out Of Office)
    Steve Stockman (TX - R) (Out Of Office)
    James M. 'Jim' Talent (MO - R) (Out Of Office)
    Randy Tate (WA - R) (Out Of Office)
    Gene Taylor (MS - D) (Out Of Office)
    Charles H. Taylor (NC - R) (Out Of Office)
    Todd Tiahrt (KS - R) (Out Of Office)
    Harold L. Volkmer (MO - D) (Out Of Office)
    Barbara F. Vucanovich (NV - R) (Out Of Office)
    Zach Wamp (TN - R) (Out Of Office)
    Julius Caesar 'J.C.' Watts Jr. (OK - R) (Out Of Office)
    David Weldon (FL - R) (Out Of Office)
    Edward 'Ed' Whitfield (KY - R)
    Roger F. Wicker (MS - R) (Out Of Office)
    Frank Rudolph Wolf (VA - R)
    Donald E. 'Don' Young (AK - R)

    Bill Zeliff (NH - R) (Out Of Office)

    Senate Vote By State:
    Alabama:    Heflin (D-AL), Yea    Shelby (R-AL), Yea
    Alaska:    Murkowski (R-AK), Yea    Stevens (R-AK), Yea
    Arizona:    Kyl (R-AZ), Yea    McCain (R-AZ), Yea
    Arkansas:    Bumpers (D-AR), Yea    Pryor (D-AR), Not Voting
    California:    Boxer (D-CA), Nay    Feinstein (D-CA), Nay
    Colorado:    Brown (R-CO), Yea    Campbell (R-CO), Yea
    Connecticut:    Dodd (D-CT), Yea    Lieberman (D-CT), Yea
    Delaware:    Biden (D-DE), Yea    Roth (R-DE), Yea
    Florida:    Graham (D-FL), Yea    Mack (R-FL), Yea
    Georgia:    Coverdell (R-GA), Yea    Nunn (D-GA), Yea
    Hawaii:    Akaka (D-HI), Nay    Inouye (D-HI), Nay
    Idaho:    Craig (R-ID), Yea    Kempthorne (R-ID), Yea
    Illinois:    Moseley-Braun (D-IL), Nay    Simon (D-IL), Nay
    Indiana:    Coats (R-IN), Yea    Lugar (R-IN), Yea
    Iowa:    Grassley (R-IA), Yea    Harkin (D-IA), Yea
    Kansas:    Frahm (R-KS), Yea    Kassebaum (R-KS), Yea
    Kentucky:    Ford (D-KY), Yea    McConnell (R-KY), Yea
    Louisiana:    Breaux (D-LA), Yea    Johnston (D-LA), Yea
    Maine:    Cohen (R-ME), Yea    Snowe (R-ME), Yea
    Maryland:    Mikulski (D-MD), Yea    Sarbanes (D-MD), Yea
    Massachusetts:    Kennedy (D-MA), Nay    Kerry (D-MA), Nay
    Michigan:    Abraham (R-MI), Yea    Levin (D-MI), Yea
    Minnesota:    Grams (R-MN), Yea    Wellstone (D-MN), Yea
    Mississippi:    Cochran (R-MS), Yea    Lott (R-MS), Yea
    Missouri:    Ashcroft (R-MO), Yea    Bond (R-MO), Yea
    Montana:    Baucus (D-MT), Yea    Burns (R-MT), Yea
    Nebraska:    Exon (D-NE), Yea    Kerrey (D-NE), Nay
    Nevada:    Bryan (D-NV), Yea    Reid (D-NV), Yea
    New Hampshire:    Gregg (R-NH), Yea    Smith (R-NH), Yea
    New Jersey:    Bradley (D-NJ), Yea    Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea
    New Mexico:    Bingaman (D-NM), Yea    Domenici (R-NM), Yea
    New York:    D'Amato (R-NY), Yea    Moynihan (D-NY), Nay
    North Carolina:    Faircloth (R-NC), Yea    Helms (R-NC), Yea
    North Dakota:    Conrad (D-ND), Yea    Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
    Ohio:    DeWine (R-OH), Yea    Glenn (D-OH), Yea
    Oklahoma:    Inhofe (R-OK), Yea    Nickles (R-OK), Yea
    Oregon:    Hatfield (R-OR), Yea    Wyden (D-OR), Nay
    Pennsylvania:    Santorum (R-PA), Yea    Specter (R-PA), Yea
    Rhode Island:    Chafee (R-RI), Yea    Pell (D-RI), Nay
    South Carolina:    Hollings (D-SC), Yea    Thurmond (R-SC), Yea
    South Dakota:    Daschle (D-SD), Yea    Pressler (R-SD), Yea
    Tennessee:    Frist (R-TN), Yea    Thompson (R-TN), Yea
    Texas:    Gramm (R-TX), Yea    Hutchison (R-TX), Yea
    Utah:    Bennett (R-UT), Yea    Hatch (R-UT), Yea
    Vermont:    Jeffords (R-VT), Yea    Leahy (D-VT), Yea
    Virginia:    Robb (D-VA), Nay    Warner (R-VA), Yea
    Washington:    Gorton (R-WA), Yea    Murray (D-WA), Yea
    West Virginia:    Byrd (D-WV), Yea    Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
    Wisconsin:    Feingold (D-WI), Nay    Kohl (D-WI), Yea
    Wyoming:    Simpson (R-WY), Yea    Thomas (R-WY), Yea

  •  What is really sad about all this is that at the.. (0+ / 0-)

    end of this fiasco we the people will be the ones who will get the shaft...  I wonder if Thomas J and the boys of the 1700s recognized that the majority would not be able to grasp what would happen to them.

    I have heard all day long that the basic issue is that the president is worried about his legacy and congress is too scared to do anything against their party's plank and a chance to be reelected.  

    And sequester will not hurt them.  Their salaries should be tied directly to any circumstances like this and a financial cliff...  they don't serve the people and they stalemate they lose their salaries

    I may not be deep, but I am very wide... Honree Balzac

    by meknow on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 03:20:31 PM PST

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