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|U.S. Rep. John Lewis joins brief challenging federal gay marriage ban|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|November 01, 2011 15:48|
Georgia's own U.S. Rep. John Lewis has joined more than 100 members of Congress in a legal brief arguing that part of the Defense of Marriage Act, the ban on federal recognition of same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional.
“The stories of people in long-term relationships who are denied the right to act on their partners’ final requests are heartbreaking,” Lewis said in a press statement today. “If a state provides the right for gay and lesbian citizens to marry, the federal government should not bar their ability to receive any of the rights and privileges given to any other married citizen.
"To do so seems discriminatory on its face. We must get to the place in our society where we see beyond our own biases and accept each other as one human family," Lewis said.
President Obama has stated his belief that Section 3 of DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would no longer defend DOMA in court over the constitutionality of Section 3 in several cases challenging the law.
“The president and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional,” Holder wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner on Feb. 23.
In response, the U.S. House, led by Boehner and majority Republican, has hired outside attorneys to defend DOMA against challenges. The budget for defending DOMA was recently increased to $1.5 million.
Some 110 members of Congress have submitted an amicus brief "to indicate that the Boehner suit does not represent the views of the entire House, and that the legislative body is in fact split on this issue," the press release from Lewis states.
"Their viewpoint is that Section 3 creates an entire class of married citizens based solely on sexual orientation which violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution. "These friends of the court also hold that there is no legitimate federal interest in denying married gay and lesbian couples the legal security, rights and responsibilities that federal law provides to couples who are married under state law," the press release concludes.
The coalition of House members who oppose the Republican defense of DOMA will file briefs in all cases for which the House intervenes, according to the release.
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