Archives – September, 2012
By Scottie Thomaston
Until now, only the Justice Department appealed Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management to the Second Circuit. The court has scheduled their opening brief for November 27. In these cases challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Justice Department has stopped defending the law and House Republicans have stepped in; because of this, both of those parties dispute the other’s legal standing to appeal the decision below, and both parties file appeals to ensure that the court has the right to even decide the merits of the constitutional challenge in the case.
Both the House and the Justice Department (on behalf of the Executive Branch defendants) claim to have the right to appeal the judgment below. The Executive Branch, though it supports a ruling holding that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, is barred from its duty to enforce the law because of the court’s judgment entered below. And House Republicans suggest they have a right to defend the law they passed.
The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which represents House Republicans, has now filed its notice of appeal in the case.
The plaintiffs, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), who filed the initial challenge, had asked the Second Circuit to expedite the proceedings in the case so that it would track the proceedings in the other Second Circuit challenge to the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, Windsor v. USA. The court denied that motion, so although oral arguments were heard yesterday at the Second Circuit in Windsor, this case is on a slower track.
Pedersen and Windsor were also petitioned to the Supreme Court for review before judgment at the appeals court by GLAD and the Justice Department. Windsor was listed for the September 24 conference, but no action has been taken.
h/t Kathleen for this filing
By Jacob Combs
A bill to legalize equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians failed yesterday in the Tasmanian Upper House on an 8-6 vote after two days of intense, thorough debate. Lara Giddings, the Tasmian Premier and a proponent of marriage equality, expressed disappointment in the outcome but said that she would keep pushing for equality.
“We will continue this,” Giddings said. ”It’s not the end. It’s the beginning.” Greens leader Nick McKim also criticized the vote, saying, “The Council’s chosen fear over love, the Council’s chosen division over unity, and it’s chosen the 19th century over the 21st century.”
In Delaware, on the other end, there are promising signs pointing to the possible success of marriage equality in the state sometime next year. The Delaware News Journal reported yesterday that Pete Schwartzkopf, a Democrat widely expected to become the state’s next Speaker of the House, told the paper that a marriage equality bill has a good chance of coming before the General Assembly in 2013, and that he’d vote for it. Schwartzkopf called marriage equality a “no-brainer,” although he said he has “no idea what the votes are.”
A civil unions bill passed the state legislature in 2011 with only two Republican votes in the legislature. Governor Jack Markell, who supports equal marriage rights, told The Huffington Post he believes the issue will come up for a vote next year, and that if it does, he is open to taking a leadership role in the process like Maryland’s Martin O’Malley and New York’s Andrew Cuomo did when their states were considering marriage equality.
H/t to jpmassar for posting both these items in Quick Hits
By Jacob Combs
I just returned from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, where a 3-judge panel heard oral arguments in the appeal of the DOMA case Windsor v. USA. In June, New York District Court Judge Barbara Jones declared DOMA unconstitutional and ordered Edie be refunded the $363,000 in estate tax she paid upon the death of her wife, Thea Spyer. Windsor’s attorneys appealed the case directly to the Supreme Court, but BLAG, the legal group representing the House of Representatives and defending the law, asked the Second Circuit to take up the case. The 3-judge panel who heard oral arguments today was comprised of Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, a George H.W. Bush appointee, Judge Chester Straub, a Bill Clinton appointee, and Judge Christopher Droney, an appointee of President Barack Obama. (more…)