On November 9, 2010, several citizens of Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire who were or had been married to partners of the same sex under the law of their states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut against the Office of Personnel Management, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, and the United States. The plaintiffs, represented by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and by private counsel, sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, alleging a violation of equal protection. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that operation of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 1 U.S.C. § 7, to deny them a variety of state and federal benefits that would be available to similarly situated individuals with spouses of the opposite sex violated the equal protection component of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Plaintiffs sought declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief.
On February 25, 2011, the Department of Justice, representing the defendants, notified the court that it had come to the conclusion that DOMA is unconstitutional and that it would thus cease defending it. In response, on April 26 the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives (BLAG) moved to intervene in defense of the act, and the Court (Judge Vanessa L. Bryant) granted its motion on May 27. Pedersen v. Office of Pers. Mgmt.
, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155323 (D. Conn. 2011).
On July 15, 2011, plaintiffs moved for summary judgment, and on August 15, BLAG moved to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint. Briefing on both motions continued over the course of the following year.
On June 20, 2012, BLAG moved to stay the proceedings pending the decision of the Second Circuit in Windsor v. United States
, No. 10-cv-08435 (S.D.N.Y.) [PB-NY-0017
]. The District Court (Judge Bryant) denied BLAG's motion on July 4, finding BLAG's assertion that the Second Circuit's decision would be dispositive in the case to be speculative.
On July 31, 2012, the Court (Judge Bryant) issued an order denying BLAG's motion to dismiss and granting plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. Pedersen v. Office of Pers. Mgmt.
, 2012 WL 3113883, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106713 (D. Conn. 2012). The Court found that "homosexuals display all the traditional indicia of suspectness and therefore statutory classifications based on sexual orientation are entitled to a heightened form of judicial scrutiny," but also found that application of heightened scrutiny was unnecessary to resolve the case, as Section 3 of DOMA failed to pass muster even under rational basis review.
On August 17, 2012, plaintiffs filed a petition for certiorari before judgment under the Supreme Court Rule that permits deviation from normal appellate practice “upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to...require immediate determination in [the Supreme] Court.” Sup. Ct. R. 11. As of the date of this summary, the petition is pending. Presumably it will be held without decision while the Court considers the California Prop. 8 case (PB-CA-0029
in this Clearinghouse) and Windsor, the DOMA case from the Second Circuit (PB-NY-0017
in this Clearinghouse), in which the Court granted review on December 7. (Argument on those cases is expected to occur in March 2013.)Christopher Schad - 12/07/2012