The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing two huge gay marriage cases this term, including a fight over a Clinton-era law that bars the federal government from recognising same-sex marriages.Obama’s relatively gay-friendly administration refused to defend the defence of Marriage Act in court and even filed an epic brief Friday asking the Supreme Court to do away with the law.
The Obama administration’s brief directly attacks arguments made by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, a Republican-dominated Congressional group that’s defending the anti-gay marriage law.
In its own brief filed in January, BLAG said the federal government doesn’t need to go out of its way to protect gay people from discrimination because they already have “remarkable political clout.“
At issue is a legal doctrine known as “heightened scrutiny,” which makes it harder to uphold laws that negatively affect individuals who lack political power or have endured discrimination.
BLAG said that DOMA shouldn’t face “heightened scrutiny” because gays have gained more “legislative victories, political power, and popular favour in less time than virtually any other group in American history.”
The Obama administration’s brief opposes the notion that gays are an all-powerful political force in the United States.
Sure, nine states have approved gay marriage. But 30 other states have voter-approved constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage, the Obama brief points out.
Gays have also been discriminated in virtually every area of life, the brief adds. They’ve lost child custody battles, their jobs, and even their right to immigrate to the U.S.
And, after racial minorities, gays are most likely to be the targets of hate crimes, the brief noted, citing the FBI’s 2011 hate crime statistics.
That kind of animus doesn’t go away with a few legislative victories.
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