WASHINGTON — The House Republican leadership Tuesday filed a brief in the Supreme Court urging the Supreme Court to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act as constitutional, arguing that the Obama administration "abdicated its duty to defend DOMA's constitutionality" in February 2011 and instead started "attacking" the law in court.
As to the law itself, the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — controlled 3-2 by Republicans in light of their House majority — argued that the federal government had the authority to legislate in an attempt to ensure "national uniformity" regarding the provision of federal benefits. The House leaders argue that in addition to the federal reasons, the Congress could act for the same reasons many states have acted to ban same-sex couples from marrying. They wrote:
There is a unique relationship between marriage and procreation that stems from marriage's origins as a means to address the tendency of opposite-sex relationships to produce unintended and unplanned offspring. There is nothing irrational about declining to extend marriage to same-sex relationships that, whatever their other similarities to opposite-sex relationships, simply do not share that same tendency. Congress likewise could rationally decide to foster relationships in which children are raised by both of their biological parents.
Finally, the House Republican leaders argue that laws classifying people based on sexual orientation should not be scrutinized more closely by courts, as is done with other types of laws under the Constitution's equal protection guarantees, because "the histories of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sex, and legitimacy are different."
The leaders summarize their argument as thus: "In the final analysis, the democratic process is at work on this issue; there is no sound reason to constitutionalize it."
The Obama administration and Edith Windsor, the widow who filed the lawsuit challenging DOMA's prohibition on the federal government recognizing same-sex couples' marriages, will respond to Tuesday's filing in February. The Supreme Court justices will hear oral arguments on the case on March 27, the day after the court hears arguments about the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 marriage amendment.
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at email@example.com.
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