Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The state of things

Here is something I never thought I would see... a state attorney general suing the federal government for discriminatory treatment against lesbian and gay people. Seriously, someone correct me if I am wrong, but has a state government EVER filed suit to PROTECT our rights?? I know that some have had to defend our rights in court--such as the Michigan attorney general, who believed that the state constitutional DOMA amendment didn't preclude offering benefits to state university employees. But this proactive motion on the part of the state of Massachusetts is simply unprecedented. [Update: HRC agrees.]

And better yet, in my humble and untrained opinion, the attorney general makes a really good case. As the brief notes, "The federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") interferes with the Commonwealth’s sovereign authority to define and regulate marriage. As applied to the Commonwealth and its residents, DOMA constitutes an overreaching and discriminatory federal law." It goes on to argue that "in enacting DOMA, Congress overstepped its authority, undermined states’ efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards gay and lesbian people. " The brief describes the state's challenges in implementing the federally-funded health care program and managing a state burial ground for veterans and their families that has received some federal funding.

How will the anti-same sex marriage forces--who LOVE to argue states' rights--answer this charge? It will drive them nuts!

I am **dying** to know the story behind the development of this brief. You know that the big national groups (HRC, Lambda Legal, the Task Force) knew it was in the works. But did Obama know? Should we suspect some behind-the-scenes coordination and discussion between Obama and his good friend, Massachusetts Governor (and father of lesbian) Deval Patrick? Could that explain why Obama's DOJ filed a weak and lame brief supporting DOMA--all the better to lose in the fight against the Mass suit?

Other interesting tidbits from the brief:

The Congressional Budget Office, however, has estimated that, if marriages
between same-sex couples were recognized in all fifty states and by the federal
government, the federal budget would benefit by $500 million to $900 million
annually. Congressional Budget Office, The Potential Budgetary Impact of
Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages (June 21, 2004) at 1, available at This net
benefit is due to estimated increased revenues through income and estate taxes
and decreased outlays for Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and Medicare.

Hmmm. That isn't surprising, honestly, though it is a lovely piece of data.

I am very excited and interested in how this case proceeds.

1 comment:

Digger said...

Well Day-um! Yay MA!!! Thanks for posting this Lesboprof!