First Circuit's DOMA Ruling Appealed to SCOTUS

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 05, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We knew this day was coming.

We knew it the minute the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Now, the case is formally on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. A writ of certiorari was officially filed last week, reports Politico.

The writ was filed by BLAG, or the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives. You can read the writ of certiorari here.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals shot down Section 3 of DOMA in May, saying that it violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

As you may recall, BLAG has been defending DOMA ever since the Justice Department announced that it would no longer defend DOMA.

The First Circuit DOMA case didn't address every issue present in the law. The case focused largely on the denial of benefits to same-sex couples.

The ruling didn't take apart the definition of marriage nor did it say that same-sex marriage in one state can benefit from full faith and credit in a sister state.

BLAG is saying that the federal government has legitimate reasons to define marriage in the traditional terms (i.e. as between a man and a woman).

The appeal is focusing on the federal government's sovereign right to define marriage. After all, the writ states, if the states can define marriage, then so can the federal government.

But that's just a small piece of the entire DOMA argument. After all, the underlying case didn't address the whether the definition of marriage needs to be changed, nor did it impose a nationwide right to gay marriage. By ruling on a section of DOMA, the First Circuit was focusing on the denial of benefits and not on any moral issue, which is essentially what the "definition of marriage" argument boils down to, (no matter how it's phrased).

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