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.

Bringing Marriage to "Modern Family"

Bringing Marriage to "Modern Family"

By Alicia Gay, ACLU at 10:34am
You might be asking yourself: What does Modern Family have to do with an upcoming landmark Supreme Court case about the freedom to marry? Well, the ACLU launched a campaign today urging Modern Family's producers to script a wedding episode for popular gay characters Mitchell Pritchett and Cameron Tucker. The campaign comes as Americans await the Supreme Court's decisions on two important LGBT equality cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Prop 8. The ACLU is direct counsel in the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor. Additionally, a stream of states have recently passed marriage equality measures.
First Major League Athlete Comes Out

First Major League Athlete Comes Out

By Shawn Jain, Media Strategist, ACLU at 2:37pm

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."

With these 12 words and a powerful feature in the new issue of Sports Illustrated, Jason Collins has come forward as the first male athlete to openly identify as gay while still being…

Today at the Supreme Court: Ms. Windsor Goes to Washington

Today at the Supreme Court: Ms. Windsor Goes to Washington

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 7:55am

I'm writing from DC, where "Team Edie" has spent the last few days in intense preparations for today's Supreme Court oral arguments in Edie Windsor's challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Edie's case presents a straightforward question…

Marriage in New Mexico, Civil Unions in Colorado – The Wave Continues!

Marriage in New Mexico, Civil Unions in Colorado – The Wave Continues!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 10:36am

It seems like every time you turn around these days, someone is announcing new support for the freedom to marry, which is the result of years of groundwork that the ACLU and other organizations have laid to get us to this incredible place.

Yesterday…

Historic Shift in Congress against DOMA Mirrors Shift in Public Opinion in Favor of Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

Historic Shift in Congress against DOMA Mirrors Shift in Public Opinion in Favor of Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:24am

On Friday, 212 members of Congress, 172 representatives and 40 senators, filed an historic brief in support of Edie Windsor's challenge to the discriminatory and unconstitutional so-called Defense of Marriage Act's (DOMA) exclusion of married same-sex…

Working Towards an LGBT-Inclusive Platform

Working Towards an LGBT-Inclusive Platform

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:28pm

On Thursday evening, BuzzFeed reported that the draft 2012 Democratic National Platform includes, as part of an overall endorsement of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, a call for passage of the Respect for Marriage Act in Congress. …

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…

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!

NOM Marriage Pledge: A Discriminatory, Tone-Deaf Pitfall

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:45pm

The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has been asking presidential hopefuls to sign a pledge stating, among other things, that they would:

support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution barring recognition of marriages involving…

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