LGBT Rights Groups Applaud NY Court’s DOMA Decision
Several gay rights organizations and activists have applauded a federal appeals court in Manhattan for striking down the Defense of Marriage Act on Thursday as unconstitutional.
The Associated Press reported that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its 2-to-1 ruling just before hearing arguments on a lower court judge’s findings that the anti-gay law was unconstitutional. A federal appeals court in Boston also found DOMA to be unconstitutional earlier this year.
The following are statements from gay and civil rights groups about the ruling:
The founder and chair of the Courage Campaign, Rick Jacobs: "Today’s ruling is another step towards ending an unjust, unconstitutional and un-American piece of legislation," he said. "Next stop, Supreme Court. Politicians and judges have no business telling anyone who they can love and who they can marry."
The director of the American Civil Liberties Union James Esseks: "Yet again, a federal court has found that it is completely unfair to treat married same-sex couples as though they’re legal strangers. Edie and Thea were there for each other in sickness and in health like any other married couple, and it’s unfair for the government to disregard both their marriage and the life they built together and treat them like second-class citizens."
Democratic member of the New York State Assembly, Daniel J. O’Donnell: "The Defense of Marriage Act is a lingering remnant of hatred and discrimination in the United States, and it has no place in our society. Today, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the validity of this principle and struck a resounding blow for the idea that all Americans deserve equal rights, not just a select few."
President and founder of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson: "Today’s ruling is the second by a federal appellate court and the tenth ruling in a row from judges appointed by presidents from Nixon to Reagan to George W. Bush, all agreeing that this disgraceful and discriminatory gay exception to the way the federal government treats married couples must end," he said. "The Supreme Court should swiftly agree to hear one or more of these cases and definitively strike down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, removing this harsh, unfair and unconstitutional burden from families, businesses, the military, and others who want to treat all married couples as what they are: married."
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: "Today’s decision is a major step forward in the fight for equality," he said. "I am pleased that the court recognized that the federal Defense of Marriage Act lacks an adequate justification and violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. As we argued in our brief in this case, the court examined the proposed justifications for the statute with special care, both because the statute burdens gay and lesbian married couples, and because it intrudes on the traditional role of states in defining marriage."
President of People for the American Way, Michael Keegan: "Every federal court that has reviewed DOMA’s section 3 has found that it violates our constitutional principles," he said. "This should be no surprise. DOMA hurts gay and lesbian married couples by denying them some of the most basic protections of marriage, and it does so for no reason but prejudice against LGBT families. Our Constitution guarantees all Americans equal protection under the law, and DOMA clearly violates that principle."
Director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, Susan Sommer: "Yet another federal court has found Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional, and now the first appeals court has applied a heightened standard of review that puts the burden on the government to show an exceedingly persuasive justification for the discrimination," she said. "The federal courts keep coming to the same conclusion-treating married same-sex couples differently than married different-sex couples is just plain unconstitutional."
Democratic New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler: "Now it’s six in a row. Yesterday, we found out Speaker Boehner had already wasted $1.5 million taxpayer dollars losing five DOMA cases in a row," he said. "Today, we learned that a sixth court has just ruled DOMA unconstitutional. As the amicus brief I spearheaded in this case pointed out, and as the court agreed, there is no justification for denying Edie Windsor the same right as all other spouses to her full inheritance without paying a tax penalty."
Conservative groups bent on outlawing gay marriage, however, mostly remained quite on the issue, groups like Family Research Council, American Family Association, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, MassResistance and others did not comment on the court’s ruling. The only anti-gay marriage group to make a statement was the National Organization for Marriage.
Thus far, Brian Brown, president of the National Association for Marriage is the only activist on the other side to issue a statement, below:
"This is yet another example of judicial activism and elite judges imposing their views on the American people, and further demonstrates why it is imperative for the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review in the currently pending DOMA cases as well as to the Proposition 8 case," he said. "The American people are entitled to a definitive ruling in support of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, as 32 states have determined through popular vote."