BOSTON, Massachusetts — On December 7th, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear arguments in Windsor v. United States, which challenges Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits federal recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples. At President Barack Obama’s direction, the U.S. Department of Justice is no longer defending DOMA. A Congressional panel led by House Speaker John Boehner has been defending the law in court.
The Court also announced that it would hear arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges the constitutionality of a 2008 ballot initiative amending theCalifornia state constitution to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples. Read the Supreme Court’s order granting Certiorari here.
MassEquality, Statement by MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini, Esq.:
“We are heartened by the U.S .Supreme Court’s decision today to hear these cases and we are hopeful that Section 3 of DOMA will soon be history. Marriages of same-sex couples in Massachusetts are still not recognized by the federal government because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. In addition to being immoral, this inequality means that married same-sex couples do not have access to many of the safety nets afforded other married couples: social security survivor benefits; Medicaid long-term care benefits; spousal veteran benefits; or rights of inheritance. The continued enforcement of DOMA has created an indefensible two-tiered system of treatment for married couples based solely on the gender of the spouses.
“Multiple court rulings, legislative votes, elections, and public opinion polls have shown that the public embraces marriage equality. Indeed, for the first time ever, on November 6, voters in three states elected to recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples, and voters in a fourth state rejected a mean-spirited constitutional amendment that would have banned legal recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples.
“As a legal remedy for the inequality created by DOMA is pursued, we urge our elected representatives in Congress to continue their work on a legislative remedy. The Respect for Marriage Act, which will be supported by every member of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation when U.S. Sen.-Elect Elizabeth Warren takes office in January, would repeal DOMA and see full federal recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples and end this blatant inequality.
“The unmistakable trend in our country is toward public acceptance and embrace of marriage equality. Here in Massachusetts we have joyously celebrated our right to marry for more than eight years. What we have learned is that our families are safer, healthier, and happier when they are treated with dignity and fairness. We have also learned that our greater civic communities are strengthened as well. We look forward to the day that the marriages of same-sex couples are celebrated everywhere and at every level of government.”
NCLR, Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:
“Both the federal DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 serve only one purpose: to harm and stigmatize same-sex couples and their children. Without a doubt, Ted Olson, David Boies, and our colleagues at the ACLU will make the strongest possible case for equality before the Court. We are confident the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA once and for all next year, and, after four long years, will finally erase the stain of Proposition 8 and restore marriage equality to California couples.The day is now clearly in sight when the federal government, the State of California, and every state will recognize that same-sex couples and their children are entitled to the same respect and recognition as every other family.”
GLAD, Statement by GLAD Director Mary L. Bonauto:
“DOMA creates a gay-only exception to federal recognition of state-licensed marriages, and we believe that the federal government should stop discriminating against same-sex couples legally married by their states. We know from working with legally married same-sex couples since 2004 in Massachusetts that DOMA undermines their security in every aspect of life and death,” said Mary L. Bonauto, director of GLAD’s Civil Rights Project.
Of California’s Prop 8 case, Bonauto said, “The ability to commit in marriage to the person you love is profoundly important and should not have been taken away from committed same-sex couples. GLAD has been leading the fight for marriage equality for two decades, including the historic marriage equality breakthroughs in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and we are committed to the success of this case. That the issue will soon be heard by the Supreme Court is a vindication of our work to achieve equal protection under the law for same-sex couples. This day has been long in the making, and we are committed to the success of this case.”
Courage Campaign, Statement by Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of Courage Campaign:
“Last month, voters from Maine to Washington stood up for equality. Now it’s time for the Supreme Court to catch up with the American public. Discrimination and hatred have no place in a country founded on the principles of liberty, justice and equality.
“Despite the efforts of a vocal minority, from politics to business to culture we are seeing a rapid and historic shift towards equality for all. Only a year ago, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed. Now, no one cares. Sooner than later, no one will care about loving gay and lesbian couples marrying any more than they care about their straight counterparts doing so.
“Each day of delay brings more suffering and hardship. We continue to have tremendous confidence in the legal team led by Ted Olson and David Boies and will work tirelessly to make sure the court does not reverse years worth of momentum in the this country towards equality.”
MassEquality is the leading statewide grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. We do this by partnering across issues, identities and communities to build a broad, inclusive and politically powerful movement that changes hearts and minds and achieves policy and electoral victories.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. For more information: www.NCLRights.org.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England ’s leading legal organization dedicated to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.
Courage Campaign is an online organizing network that empowers more than 750,000 grassroots and netroots activists to push for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. As a leading multi-issue advocacy organization, Courage Campaign’s work is supported by thousands of small donations from our diverse community.
[Compiled from News Releases]
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