The Defense of Marriage Act is set for a showdown in a federal appeals court later this month between those who say it is right for the government to speak of marriage only in heterosexual terms and those who say doing so discriminates against unions for same-sex couples.
In June, U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones in Manhattan declared the 1996 law unconstitutional, prompting former Attorney General John Ashcroft, among others, to submit to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals written arguments supporting the statute. Others have written legal briefs opposing it, including a filing by the U.S. Justice Department saying the law must go because it was “motivated in substantial part by disapproval of gay and lesbian people.”
Oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 27.
Already, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has affirmed a federal judge’s 2010 ruling against the law. Two federal judges in California and one in Connecticut also have ruled the law unconstitutional.