Defense of Marriage Act

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law passed in 1996 that both created a federal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and expressly gave states permission to refuse to recognize marriages entered into by same-sex couples in other jurisdictions. The part of DOMA that defines marriage at the federal level – known as Section 3 – was a radical departure from 220 years of federal practice, which was to rely on each state to define marriage and to recognize any marriage legally entered into under state law as a valid marriage for federal purposes.

We are challenging Section 3 of DOMA on behalf of our client Edie Windsor in Windsor v. United States, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States. In June, the Court will rule on whether DOMA violates equal protection by treating married gay couples as unmarried in over 1,100 federal programs.

New Legislation Addresses Need for Equal Treatment of Military Spouses

New Legislation Addresses Need for Equal Treatment of Military Spouses

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:41pm
Just in time for Independence Day, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, has introduced the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act (H.R. 6046).  This important legislation would ensure equality in military and veteran benefits for all military spouses.  It has already garnered the support of 11 additional Democratic members of the Armed Services Committee, as well as Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
"Honey, We Did It!" – Edie Windsor Says Thank You

"Honey, We Did It!" – Edie Windsor Says Thank You

By Robyn Shepherd, ACLU at 4:41pm

Yesterday, Edie Windsor visited the ACLU and NYCLU offices to address the media after her amazing victory in her challenge against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Edie filed a lawsuit with the help of the ACLU and the law firm Paul, Weiss,…

Another DOMA Win!

Another DOMA Win!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 7:44pm

When it rains, it pours! Late this afternoon, another federal judge ruled that the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the federal constitution. The ruling came in an ACLU case brought by Edie Windsor after the death…

ACLU Lens: Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down DOMA

ACLU Lens: Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down DOMA

By Robyn Shepherd, ACLU at 12:15pm

A federal appeals court in Massachusetts ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies married same-sex couples the same federal benefits available to other married couples.

The case, Gill v. Office of Personnel…

Anti-Gay Pandering Cannot Stop Historic Momentum for LGBT Rights

Anti-Gay Pandering Cannot Stop Historic Momentum for LGBT Rights

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:10pm

What an amazing and historic week it has been for the cause of gay rights. On Wednesday, for the first time in our country’s history, a sitting President of the United States said that he supports the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian…

ACLU Lens: President Obama Endorses Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples

ACLU Lens: President Obama Endorses Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples

By Alicia Gay, ACLU at 4:22pm

President Obama today became the first sitting U.S. president to endorse the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. In an interview taped earlier this afternoon, he told ABC News’ Robin Roberts:

“I have to tell you that over the…

A Look at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

A Look at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:31pm

In 1998, Congress created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to draw attention to violations of religious freedom in other countries. The commissioners vote annually to list countries that are of particular concern or place…

"Repeal DOMA" Prominent Governors and Mayors Urge Congress

"Repeal DOMA" Prominent Governors and Mayors Urge Congress

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 6:09pm

This week, a group of prominent state governors and big city mayors from across the country urged Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

DOMA Repeal Vote Represents a Critical Shift

DOMA Repeal Vote Represents a Critical Shift

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:36pm

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 in support legislation that would fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

VICTORY! Senate Committee Votes to Repeal DOMA

VICTORY! Senate Committee Votes to Repeal DOMA

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:46am

Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Respect for Marriage Act by a vote of 10-8!

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