House Democrats File Amicus Brief Against DOMA, Argue Law ‘Undermines Child Welfare’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 132 House Democrats have filed an amicus brief against the Defense of Marriage Act in the consolidated case of Massachusetts v. Dept. of Health and Human Services and Gill vs. Office of Personnel Management. The case is currently in the First Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal district court found Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional.

The members argue, in part, that the “pervasive history of discrimination” against gays and lesbians “confirms the need for a more exacting standard of [constitutional] review which the law cannot pass and explain how denying federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples “unjustifiably harms married gay and lesbian couples and their children”:

Section 3 also undermines legitimate child welfare interests by denying the children of married gay and lesbian couples “the immeasurable advantages that flow from the assurance of a stable family structure when afforded equal recognition under federal law.”… Section 3 deprives these children of financial benefits that otherwise would accrue to their families, including, for example, more favorable tax treatment or the ability to include all family members on a family health insurance plan. […]

Children also suffer from harmful social stigma when the government treats their families as illegitimate and undesirable.

The brief also highlights the success of opposition groups like the National Organization for Marriage in derailing pro-equality legislation and notes, “some Members who support repeal have been told that they ‘do so at their own peril’ and targeted for aggressive opposition.” “These are not idle threats; those opposed to protections for gay men and lesbians have successfully mounted well funded political campaigns to punish those who have safeguarded the rights of this group or to prevent or reverse legal gains,” the brief says. “Gay men and lesbians have lacked the political power to counteract this organized opposition.”

Read the full brief here.