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DOMA trials: GLAD files for summary judgment in Pedersen case

DOMA trials

By Adam Bink

Over e-mail:

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed a motion for summary judgment in Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, its 2nd Circuit challenge to the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

GLAD argues that the equal protection claims of the plaintiffs, six married couples and one widower from Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire, require heightened scrutiny from the court. The brief shows how DOMA fails heightened scrutiny, or even a rational basis review.

“No interest advanced to defend DOMA can in fact withstand any level of scrutiny,” the brief reads. “The reasons offered by Congress at the time of DOMA’s passage are either nonsensical or just another way of saying that Congress wanted to denounce and harm those gay men and lesbians who form long-term relationships and seek to have those relationships recognized and respected through civil marriage.”

GLAD also filed supporting affidavits from experts Michael Lamb, Ph.D, Gary Segura, Ph.D, Lititia Anne Peplau, Ph.D, George Chauncey, Ph.D, and Nancy F. Cott, Ph.D.

The next step is for Congress to respond to GLAD’s motion for summary judgment on or by August 15, 2011.

GLAD filed Pedersen v. OPM in Hartford, CT on November 8, 2010. GLAD’s DOMA challenge Gill v. OPM won a July 8, 2010 ruling in Massachusetts federal district court that DOMA is unconstitutional. That case is now on appeal.

The motion and other documents can be found on GLAD’s site here.


  • 1. Alan_Eckert  |  July 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Translation please? What is summary judgement again and how does that compare to other types of judgements? The great weather here is preventing me from using my brain correctly.

  • 2. Bill S.  |  July 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    A request for summary judgement argues that there is no controversy as to the facts of the case and as such the judge should enter a verdict in the plaintiffs' favor without a trial.

    They are basically arguing "it is so obvious we're right here there is no need to have a trial." It is very unlikely that this will be granted.

  • 3. Ann S.  |  July 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm


  • 4. Kathleen  |  July 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Summary judgement basically says that even if the facts are exactly as our opponents claim they are, the law requires that we win. It's pretty standard for plaintiffs to file motions for summary judgment and defendants to file motions to dismiss. You'll see that in the procedural history of a lot of the cases we're watching. Note, for example, that the Mass DOMA cases were decided by summary judgment.

  • 5. karen in kalifornia  |  July 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Since I wasn't sure which case the Pederson on was, this is off the GLAD website. Six couples are plaintiffs.

    "This lawsuit challenges the federal government’s denial of marriage-related protections in the areas of federal Family Medical Leave Act benefits, federal laws for private pension plans, federal laws concerning state pension plans, as well as the same core issues addressed in GLAD’s earlier case of Gill v. OPM – federal income taxation, social security benefits, and employment benefits for federal employees and retirees.

    All of the couples and widower in question were married in their home states, were qualified for a particular program, but were denied those protections solely because of DOMA. Only married couples of the same sex are singled out for federal non-recognition, depriving them of federally-created economic safety nets that couples count on when they marry and that help them take care of each other and their children."

  • 6. Steve  |  July 19, 2011 at 6:19 am

    It means that the judge issues a ruling without a full trial. The facts in the case are so clear (and have been presented many times before) that there is no need to hear witnesses for each side

  • 7. Ronnie  |  July 19, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Subscribing & sharing…..

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  • 8. MFargo  |  July 19, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Thank you, Kathleen. You're wonderful. (Anyone care to cover "rational basis" and/or "heightened scrutiny?")

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