One-hundred and thirty-three members of the 192-strong House Democratic caucus have filed an amicus brief siding with groups challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, saying that the provision denying same-sex married couples federal rights is unconstitutional.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced the filing yesterday on Twitter. Pelosi and other members who signed the brief argue "that the key section of the law is unconstitutional because it was passed quickly, driven by biases and lacks 'a rational relationship to any legitimate federal purpose,'" reports Politico.
In the brief, the members—including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and Reps. Jerry Nadler, John Conyers, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis, among others — state that Congress "acted hastily" when DOMA was enacted.
Among those Democrats signing onto the amicus curiae, 14 members—including Hoye—voted for the bill’s passage in 1996. Reps. Jim Clyburn, Robert Andrews, Earl Blumenauer, Rosa DeLauro, Loyld Doggett, Michael Doyle, Bob Filner, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Sander Levin, Nita Lowey, Richard Neal, Ed Pastor and Bobby Rush also supported DOMA in 1996. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee voted present.
The Obama Administration announced in February that it will NOT defend recent lawsuits challenging DOMA. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has hired counsel through the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to defend DOMA's constitutionality.
The brief was co-signed by the entire House Democratic leadership, most of the Progressive Caucus and most of the Congressional Black Caucus, including John Conyers, Maxine Waters, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Barbara Lee, Jesse Jackson Jr., Chaka Fatah, Emanuel Cleaver and many others.
The brief was filed in the consolidated cases of Massachusetts vs. Department of Health and Human Services and Gill vs. Office of Personnel Management. These were the landmark federal rulings in July 2010 that found DOMA Sec 3 is unconstitutional. The suits were filed by Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which also won the Goodridge case that mandated marriage equality in Massachusetts.