Monday, July 09, 2012

Gay Cases Piling Up Before US Supreme Court

The 2012-2013 term of the United States Supreme Court is shaping up to be the gayest in recent history. There are already numerous cases pending a decision on the Court to take them: the two consolidated Defense of Marriage Act cases on appeal from the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, Gill v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the  Proposition 8 case Perry v. Brown on appeal from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. (Technically Charles Cooper hasn't filed his appeal to the US Supreme Court yet, but there's no doubt he will, or else marriage equality will go back into effect in California, something the heterosexaul supremacists Cooper represents are trying to delay as long as possible, and are willing to use the glacial pace of the federal judiciary to assist them in this goal.)

Overshadowed by the July 4th holiday last week, the news that the Department of Justice has petitioned the high court to accept the DOMA cases from the 1st circuit as well as the Golinski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management case from the 9th Circuit. The Golinski case is yet another case where a (conservative) federal judge has ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional, this time because an employee of the 9th Circuit is being denied the right to put her legally married wife on her health care plan. What's surprising about the DOJ petition is that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments in Golinski for September, so it is quite an extraordinary step to ask the high court to take the case before a federal appellate court has considered and released a decision.

Lambda Legal released a statement
This development highlights the desire by all, the government included, to resolve this issue quickly. It is clear to us, to the Solicitor General and to the Department of Justice that DOMA’s days are numbered. The last four courts to consider the question have all found Section 3 of DOMA—which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples’ valid marriages—to be unconstitutional. The Justice Department’s action may speed the day when the Supreme Court reaches the issue. Lambda Legal and Morrison & Foerster stand ready to argue for fair treatment for Karen Golinski and her spouse, Amy Cunninghis, in any court, at any time—and we welcome this opportunity to finally put DOMA out of its, and our, misery. 
There are loving, married same-sex couples, and grieving lesbian and gay widows and widowers around the country who are being hurt by the government’s discriminatory actions—that’s why there are DOMA cases pending in several jurisdictions, brought on behalf of many plaintiffs. Every one of their stories demonstrates that DOMA is an unfair and discriminatory law that violates the Constitution. While it is up to the Supreme Court to decide whether or not to hear Golinski now, we are confident that DOMA will be found unconstitutional—and the sooner, the better.
But, wait, there's more! Chris Geidner is reporting that Arizona governor Jan Brewer has decided to appeal to the United States Supreme Court her loss in Brewer v. Diaz, a case in which the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Arizona law signed by Bewer passed by the Republican legislature to remove same-sex domestic partner benefits from state employees violates the Equal Protection Clause of the federal constitution. The 9th Circuit had already announced in April 2, 2012 that it was refusing to reconsider their September 2011 ruling preventing the discriminatory law from going into effect, thus starting the 90-day clock for Arizona to appeal to the nation's highest court.

Thus the first monday in October, October 1st, will become an incredibly important day in the history of gay rights (and probably a very bad day for heterosexual supremacists). It is unlikely that the Court will decide to take all these cases, and whichever one it does not then the decision at the lower level will become the final ruling, which in every case here would be a win for the forces for LGBT equality.

1 comment:

Michael Ejercito said...

October 1st is the third anniversary of a Texas Family Court ruling that struck down Texas's Proposition 2. The litigation from which that ruling arose is pending in the Texas Supreme Court.


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