Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell

(San Francisco, CA, March 27, 2013)—Today, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in a constitutional challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Supreme Court heard 50 minutes of argument concerning the Court’s jurisdiction to hear the case and one hour of argument concerning the constitutionality of DOMA.

DOMA was enacted by Congress in 1996 and nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for purposes of federal law. DOMA states “the word ‘marriage’ means only the legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” DOMA prevents same-sex married couples from receiving federal benefits that all other married couples receive, such as Social Security spousal benefits and health insurance for spouses of federal employees.

The Supreme Court’s decision is expected by the end of June 2013.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:

“The so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a mean-spirited law that serves only to harm same-sex couples and their children while helping no one. We are confident the Supreme Court will agree that depriving legally married same-sex couples of the many federal rights and benefits offered to spouses does nothing to strengthen anyone else’s marriage. There is no legitimate reason to treat married same-sex couples differently than other couples when it comes to taxes, Social Security, and immigration. As the Solicitor General ably argued today, DOMA is the rare kind of law that is so offensive to the Constitution’s basic promise of equality that the government cannot defend it. We join the United States Department of Justice and our colleagues at the ACLU in urging the Court to strike down DOMA.”