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House Democrats Weigh in on DOMA Appeal with Amicus Brief

By Robyn Hagan Cain on July 10, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Department of Justice may want to side-step the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to fight Karen Golinski's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) appeal on First Street, but Democrats in the House of Representatives seem to like their odds before the West Coast court.

Tuesday, 132 House Democrats filed an amicus brief in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act to assist litigation challenging the 1996 law, the Washington Blade reports. The brief is the Democrats' way of letting everyone know that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) isn't so bipartisan after all.

BLAG, you'll recall, is defending DOMA after the Justice Department decided that it was no longer going to support the law. The Group certainly has its hands full, between appeals in the Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals, and a pending certiorari petition to the Supreme Court in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management.

Democrats claim in the brief that DOMA warrants heightened scrutiny because Congress has a history of targeting gay and lesbian Americans with discriminatory laws. They go on to argue that DOMA is unconstitutional because Congress hastily passed it in 1996 for political reasons, and because the law undercuts Congress' interest in protecting families and respecting state sovereignty, the Blade explains.

In addition to Pelosi and Nadler, all the members of Democratic leadership signed the amicus brief against DOMA -- including House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, and Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn. Other House Democrats signing the brief include John Conyers, and all four openly-gay members of Congress: Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis, and David Cicilline.

The Ninth Circuit will consider the DOMA appeal in September.

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