The American Bar Association (ABA) has
called on the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA), saying that the 1996 law places “unprecedented
and discriminatory burdens” on married gay and lesbian couples.
In a brief filed last week to the high
court in support of United States v. Windsor, the ABA argues
that DOMA's definition of marriage as a heterosexual union is
inconsistent with the guarantee of equal protection under the Fifth
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Section 3 of the statute prevents
federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples.
Section 3 “not only withholds a wide
array of federal rights and protections from married gay and lesbian
couples, but it usually leaves them and their lawyers with few or no
sound legal options for approximating those rights,” the
ABA's brief states. “The difficulties presented by Section 3
arise in a range of settings, from procuring affordable health care
to achieving financial security and, for binational couples, to
navigating the immigration system.”
The ABA includes more than 400,000
members and is considered the largest voluntary professional
membership organization in the world.