Federal DOMA Upheld as Constitutional; Lesbian's Challenge to '96 Law Rebuffed in Washington State
Byline: Amy Fagan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A federal judge in Washington state last week upheld the federal Defense of Marriage Act as constitutional, marking the first time a federal court has ruled on the 1996 law, which defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
"The case for same-sex marriage has been undermined," said Glen Lavy, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal group that opposes homosexual "marriage" and recently lost a state case in Washington on the issue. "The bottom line message is ... same-sex marriage is not inevitable in this country. We can win this battle."
The federal case involved a lesbian couple who had "married" in Canada and filed jointly for bankruptcy in their home state of Washington.
Their joint filing was opposed since they didn't fit the federal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. After one of the women died, the other woman fought for their joint bankruptcy filing by challenging DOMA, arguing that it is unconstitutional.
Mr. Lavy explained that with a joint bankruptcy filing, "the deceased woman's assets would go to the other woman, rather than to the creditors."
In a decision issued Tuesday from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tacoma, Wash., federal bankruptcy Judge Paul B. Snyder ruled that DOMA is indeed constitutional and that it "does not violate the principles of comity, or the Fourth, Fifth, or Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution."
Judge Snyder also wrote, "DOMA does not burden a fundamental right, nor target a suspect class."
The case only challenged federal DOMA's definition of marriage. It did not involve the other half of the law, which says states can't be forced to recognize same-sex "marriages" from other states.
Lara Schwartz, senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, said the federal judge's decision is "obviously disappointing" to those who believe that "all American families deserve the same legal protections." But she said the overall "case for marriage equality ... is as clear as it's always been."
Ms. Schwartz said any federal court ruling is "significant" because it helps build a body of law on the topic, but she predicted there will be conflicting federal court rulings on DOMA and the same-sex "marriage" issue will eventually end up before the Supreme Court. …