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How DOMA undermines ethics laws

DOMA trials

By Jacob Combs

If you watched Matt Baume’s marriage news watch this week, you might have noticed this story already, but I thought it was worth examining in a little more detail.

The nonprofit watchdog group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) filed an amicus brief last week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit as part of the Massachusetts v. Human Health Services case challenging DOMA in which the organization argued that the law inadvertently undermines a broad range of ethics and transparency laws by reserving the terms ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ for opposite-sex couples only.

From MarketWatch:

Current anti-nepotism laws impose bans on hiring or appointing spouses for government positions, but thanks to DOMA, do not apply to same-sex married couples. As a result, an agency head could hire his or her same-sex spouse despite the obvious conflict of interest. Similarly, financial disclosure obligations imposed by the Ethics in Government Act and other statutes do not apply to same-sex spouses. These consequences highlight the fundamental problems with this irrational and over-broad legislation.

While CREW’s argument may not seem hugely significant on the surface, it can only help us in court down the line.  If DOMA is subjected to heightened scrutiny going forward (which it should be), it will clearly not withstand the scrutiny of the Constitution.  But even if the DOMA cases are decided on rational basis review, arguments like these further our cause.  You can’t argue that DOMA is a rational use of Congress’ power when it inadvertently subverts the very laws we’ve put in place to make our government fairer and more transparent.


  • 1. Ronnie  |  November 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Subscribing & sharing……. This is the hateful America NOM et al is creating & perpetuating……

    Vandal Spray-Paints 'F*g' Slur on Home of Gay Couple in Ohio:

    David Robins and his partner, Michael, have lived at their home on Castleton Street in Grove City for nine years. Wednesday morning, Robins said, they awoke to find someone had spray-painted homophobic slurs on their garage door, home and fence.

    "It's extremely disappointing. Nine years we've lived here and not a problem. Now, all of a sudden this happens. It makes me kind of wonder," he said

    (me) Now this couple has to take money that maybe they saved for a hard earned vacation, new tires for their car, or the extra medical bills they have to pay because they may not have insurance coverage for both of them so that they can repaint their home of 9years & fence that was vandalized with homophobic epithets….. If only they had a little extra cash, you know from the money taken out of their paycheck(s) to "subsidize" marriage benefits that are not issued to them but are required to pay for in the form of taxes……. <3…Ronnie

  • 2. Gregory in SLC  |  November 10, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    have you seen the movie "Fag Bug"(on netflix), how one person dealt with car being spay painted similarly….

  • 3. reddecatur  |  November 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks for the post's good to know.

  • 4. _BK_  |  November 11, 2011 at 4:44 am

    Cool. The author makes an interesting point. Thanks!

  • 5. ghibagarbac  |  August 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    just awesome!

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