Fourth DOMA Case Petitioned to Supreme Court

Posted by Justin Snow
August 22, 2012 2:05 PM |

Pressure is mounting on the Supreme Court as another case challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act was petitioned for review on Tuesday.

Thumbnail image for meitzen-pedersen-high.jpgGay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders asked the high court to review Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, a Connecticut case surrounding Joanne Pendersen and her wife, Ann Meitzen.

Pendersen, who served in a civilian position for the U.S. Department of the Navy for 30 years, sued the federal government in November 2010 after Meitzen was denied coverage on her federal health insurance plan because of DOMA.

Last month, an appointee of President George W. Bush, U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Bryant, ruled that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, is unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

GLAD's petition for writ of certiorari gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to immediately review the case and makes the case the fourth concerning DOMA's constitutionality requested for review by the Supreme Court.

According to the petition, GLAD argues the case should be reviewed because it demonstrates DOMA's negative impact on several federal programs, including the federal income tax, Social Security, and federal employee and retiree benefits.

Moreover, GLAD argues for immediate consideration because of the continuing economic burden placed on the couple and their children by the federal government's refusal to grant Meitzen coverage under Pendersen's health insurance plan.

In a statement, Mary Bonauto, a GLAD attorney representing Pedersen, said DOMA "heaps disrespect" on thousands of married same-sex couples across the country with each passing day.

"These plaintiffs need to hear definitively from the Supreme Court whether or not the federal government will ultimately respect their love, commitment and legal bonds," Bonauto added.

Multiple lower courts have declared DOMA unconstitutional since the Obama administration stopped defending the law in February 2011. The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Groups (BLAG), which is controlled by House Republicans, has sought to defend the constitutionality of DOMA.

Opponents and supporters alike of the expansive federal law hope the Supreme Court will consider at least one case to determine the law's constitutionality. If arguments are heard, a ruling is expected by June 2013.

[Photo: Ann Meitzen and Joanne Pendersen (Photo courtesy of GLAD.)]


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