Orrin Hatch, GOP Senators File Amicus Brief Supporting DOMA

On Monday, a group of GOP senators filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Defense of Marriage Act and attacking recent court decisions that have shot holes through DOMA.

The brief was submitted by a cabal of nine senators that included Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees DOMA. Hatch (right) and company claim that despite recent rulings, DOMA was not passed with the intention to discriminate against gays and lesbians, merely to clarify “massive legal uncertainty” about the definition of marriage.

The District Court found that Section 3 violates the equal protection rights of same-sex couples who are married under state law. In so doing, it relied heavily on evidence from the legislative history, particularly statements made by individual members during floor debate, which it viewed as showing that DOMA was motivated by “animus” against gays and lesbians and/or the concept of same-sex marriage.

The District Court virtually ignored Congress’s interest in avoiding massive legal uncertainty, needless litigation, and inconsistent results with regard to the availability of federal benefits.

In February, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled against DOMA and commented that “the legislative history is replete with expressed animus toward gay men and lesbians.” He specifically recalled terms used in Congress during debates that called  homosexuality “depraved,” “unnatural,” and “an attack on God’s principles.”

In their brief, the senators contended that nothing “authorizes a court to strike down an otherwise constitutional law based on the belief that legislators individually, or the Congress as a whole, were motivated by ‘animus.’”

“Judicial ‘psychoanalysis’ of legislative motives, to use Justice Cardozo’s phrase, is a highly subjective exercise, which threatens needless friction between the branches,” the brief continues. “Scouring the congressional record for ‘sound-bites’ to divine and disparage the motives of individual legislators also chills the freedom of legislative speech that is the hallmark of robust democratic debate.”

The senators also said made note that they weren’t exactly thrilled with Judge White’s comparison of DOMA to anti-miscegenation laws.

Reaction to the brief from LGBT groups is understandably indignant: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network director Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran, calls their contention “absurd.”

“There is absolutely no national interest in relegating gay and lesbian citizens to second class status with the passage of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, and to say that no harm was intended to LGBT Americans is absurd at best,” says Sarvis. “At worst, it’s a blatant and mean-spirited attempt to slow down the progress we are making on securing the freedom to marry for all Americans.”


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  • Steve

    The finding of an equal-protection violation does not depend on the finding thata clear majority of congressmen each expressed animus against gays, on the record, during the congressional debate. It only depends on the plain words of the act, which clearly deny equal-protection to one class of citizens.

    That animus is not a valid reason to deny equal protection to a class of citizens, is important, though. The BLAG group has previously made the assertion that animus _is_ a “rational basis” for the law. The court, rightfully, rejected that assertion.

  • 1equalityUSA

    Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has made both mine and my spouse’s gaydar go off every time we see him. He’s even more gay than John Boehner. What is up with these closet cases going ape over LGBT? These men make my skin crawl.

  • tj

    There really is no reason to be passionate about conservative causes- they in fact don’t really have “causes”. Every Republican is driven by some underlying, unspoken, motivation. Indeed many are closeted homosexuals, or at least fight male attraction. Many have racial animus. Many are misogynist. ETC

  • Bob

    And we still we have 30% of the LGBT community voting for these ass wipes! To my brothers and sisters…WAKE UP…they do not want you and will never accept you!

  • James

    @Bob: 30% really? Gays must be crazy.

    DOMA may not have originally been written, in 1996, with the purpose of discrimination, but in 2012, that’s exactly what it does.

  • RK

    @James – Bob is unfortunately correct as in the last presidental election 30% of LGBT voted for the facist Republicans. I am not sure if this statistic is from self-identified LGBT voters or from closeted self-hating LGBT ones. Either way, it makes no sense. Yes, there maybe other issues to base your vote on, but nothing supercedes voting against someone that does not want you to exist. All other issues are irrelevant if you have no rights!

  • Cam

    1. Gee, what a shock, the most famous Mormon Senator, is supporting the LDS Church’s bigotry.

    2. As for the 30% number, it is slightly deceptive because a larger group sat out the last election on the left, while all the folks on the right still voted. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that that number will be much smaller this election.

  • kippers2222

    Hatch is from my state and he has always been anti gay, I LMAO when he said that he DOMA is not anti gay!! What a a**wipe. He looks to be ready to be put into a coffin…

  • tookietookie

    Hatch is a piece of poo.

  • Lukw

    I might be able to buy their argument except for 1 thing, there has never been a federal law like this specifically targeting a specific group of people, The federal government recognized interacial marriages, interfaith marriages and such as they became legal.Unless I am wrong this law infact creates the mess it was trying to prevent. It does not serve a purpose and congress had never shown a reason to deny benefits to a legally married couple even now, try and come up with a reason that is not dripping with animus.

  • TF

    @RK: I’m thinking the closeted kind. The one’s I have met expressed the sincere desire to not spend money on certain areas of continued spending. Their focus there was to spending on people who will not or at least they are convinced will not go get a job. Which I can’t agree on because this is one hell of a tough job market depending where your at. So the ideals of where their money gets spent prevailed over their desire to reach marriage freedom, or less discrimination. I believe they don’t see some of the problems being fought for as problems because they don’t want to get married adn they are rarely discriminated against. So our problems functionaly to them are not their problems, and for them it may never change.

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