Supreme Court Considers DOMA -- United States v. Windsor

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But the government argues that DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

"The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples," writes Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli.

Verrilli argues that laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny from the courts. He points out such scrutiny is necessary because gays and lesbians have faced a "significant history of discrimination in this country," and that they have suffered from limited political power, as evidenced by the fact that states have passed initiatives banning same-sex marriage.

Lawyers for Edie Windsor reject Clement's position that DOMA is necessary to promote responsible procreation, writing in court briefs: "It is irrational, fantastical thinking to believe that the federal government's decision to treat married gay couples as unmarried under federal law will encourage straight couples to marry before having children."

The Court has allowed one hour and 50 minutes of arguments for the case.

Vicki C. Jackson is the amicus counsel, Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan will argue the jurisdictional questions for the government, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. will argue the merits, Paul D. Clement will argue for BLAG, and Roberta A. Kaplan for Windsor.

Click here to read more about the challenge to California's Proposition 8.

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