Dept of Justice to Appeal DOMA Rulings

October 12, 2010
Breaking DOMA news this evening-- first from the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD): Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the challenge brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Representing seven married same-sex couples and three widowers, GLAD filed Gill in March 2009.  The case was heard in May 2010 by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro, who issued a decision finding DOMA Section 3 unconstitutional on July 8, 2010. “We fully expected an appeal and are more than ready to meet it head on,” said Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director.  “DOMA brings harm to families like our plaintiffs every day, denying married couples and their children basic protections like health insurance, pensions, and Social Security benefits.  We are confident in the strength of our case.” The case is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The next step will be for the government to file its brief to that court arguing that Judge Tauro’s ruling was wrong.  GLAD will then file its brief in opposition to the government, and finally the government will file a reply brief.  At that point, the appeal will be scheduled for oral argument.  Briefing could be concluded by the spring of 2011 with oral argument to follow by the fall of 2011. The government also today filed its notice of appeal in the related case Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Department of Health and Human Services. Co-counsel in the Gill case are attorneys from the firms Foley Hoag LLP, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Jenner & Block LLP, and Kator, Parks & Weiser, PLLC. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression. The U.S. Department of Justice this afternoon also filed a notice of appeal in Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services. In that case Judge Joseph Tauro had ruled that Congress violated the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it passed DOMA, which narrowed the definition of marriage, under federal law, to be an institution that exists solely between one man and one woman.  Under Judge Tauro’s ruling, the federal government in so doing violated state sovereignty by treating some couples with Massachusetts’ marriage licenses differently than others. You can read more about the cases in this past glaadblog post. And we'll be sure to keep you updated on any new developments, while working to ensure that the media covers this story fairly and accurately.