Yesterday saw the first lawsuit trying to stop gay marriage in New York and today brings the opposite. The New York State Attorney General has filed a brief in the ongoing fight against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) arguing that it violates the right to equal protection under the law for gay and lesbian couples.
The brief, below, argues that New York has had a long history of affording equal rights to same-sex couples and that the 1996 DOMA makes that difficult to continue. "Because New York has consistently expressed and implemented its commitment to equal treatment for same-sex couples, New York has a strong interest in ensuring that the 'protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations, and benefits,' accorded to them under federal law by virtue of marriage are equalto those accorded to different-sex married couples," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote. "Without such equal treatment by the federal government, New York’s statutory commitment to marriage equality for all married couples will be substantially unrealized."
Further, Schneiderman argues that:
By refusing to recognize for federal purposes marriages that are valid understate law, DOMA intrudes on matters historically within the control of the States, and undermines and denigrates New York’s law designed to ensure equality of same-sex and different-sex married couples. Thus DOMA threatens basic principles of federalism. Moreover, it classifies and determines access to rights, benefits, and protections based on sexual orientation, and also based on sex.
This latest brief—which was submitted in support of Edith S. Windsor, whose case (Windsor v. United States) is one of the more prominent legal moves against DOMA—comes as President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have made it clear that they will not be defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court.