The Obama Administration sent its top
lawyer to argue that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is
unconstitutional, gay weekly Metro
Assistant Attorney General Tony West,
who heads the civil division of the Department of Justice (DOJ),
appeared at a San Francisco hearing reviewing Karen Golinski's legal
challenge to the law that bars federal agencies from recognizing the
legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
Golinski, a 9th U.S. Circuit
of Appeals lawyer, sued the government after her employer denied
health insurance coverage to her wife, Amy Cunninghis. The U.S.
Office of Personnel (OPM) has argued that DOMA blocks such benefits.
Defending the law is the House
Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which was created by
Republican leaders in the House after the DOJ announced it would no
longer defend the law in court.
The DOJ argued that heightened scrutiny
should apply to sexual orientation classifications. DOMA is
unconstitutional under that standard, the agency said
According to sources speaking to Metro
Weekly, this was the first time the DOJ has appeared to argue its
heightened scrutiny position. In July, the DOJ filed a 31-page brief
in which it argued for the first time that DOMA serves no legitimate