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DOMA: BLAG files motion to intervene in challenge by married military veterans seeking spousal benefits

DOMA trials

By Scottie Thomaston

Thanks to Kathleen in Quick Hits for this

In McLaughlin v. Panetta, gay and lesbian military servicemembers who are married are challenging the Defense of Marriage Act and three other federal statutes affecting spousal benefits, leaving married gays and lesbians without the same legal protections and benefits as straight married couples. The Department of Justice has refused to defend both Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (the only section at issue in DOMA challenges) and federal laws pertaining to military benefits that operate in exactly the same way DOMA does. This would leave these provisions without a defense unless BLAG chose to intervene to defend the statutes, and today they did:

Update in McLaughlin v. Panetta (SLDN DOMA challenge)

BLAG files motion to intervene. BLAG’s answer to plaintiffs’ complaint attached as Exhibit 3. Also, Memo in support of motion.

Per motion, plaintiffs object to intervention and the DOJ does not object but will file a response.

1:11-cv-11905 #32

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network issued a statement, reading in part:

Washington, D.C.) Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today fired back at Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and his Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) for their request to intervene in McLaughlin v. U.S., the landmark federal court case filed in October 2011 by eight married gay and lesbian service members and veterans, who are represented by SLDN and Chadbourne & Parke. The case challenges the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and three other federal statutes – Titles 10, 32, and 38 – that preclude the military from providing equal recognition, support, and benefits for all military families. The Department of Justice announced its intention related to the case in a letter sent to Boehner on February 17, 2012, triggering the BLAG to make known its position.

“Speaker Boehner’s request to defend this case in the wake of the ongoing harm done to military families by these discriminatory laws is reprehensible and callous. The Speaker has turned a deaf ear to the urgent pleas of CW2 Charlie Morgan and countless families like hers, who are living with the day-to-day realities of a military that has been forced to create two classes of service members,” said Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.

The number of challenges to DOMA keeps growing, and with that, so does the number of cases in which the Republican-led House is choosing to intervene.


  • 1. Bruce Kenyon  |  May 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I think we should stop using the word "intervene", and say "intervere", which is really what these outrageous actions are on the part of BLAG. Why provide them some sort of linguistic "cover"? Let's call it as it is!

  • 2. Bruce Kenyon  |  May 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Sorry– meant "interfere". They made me so mad I mis-typed!

  • 3. John Kusters  |  May 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I'm just left wondering where all the money to pay for defending these ever-increasing number of cases is coming from. Eventually BLAG's law firms will want to be paid, right? What budget is that going to come out of?

  • 4. Michelle Evans  |  May 1, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    They have continually refused to say where the money is coming from. They learned from NOM (who refuse to disclose its own donors, even after losing court battle after court battle), that even though others in congress and taxpayers want to know, they refuse to disclose.

    Why are the allowed (both NOM and BLAG) to continue to flaunt the law and get away with this?

  • 5. Jamie  |  May 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    "The number of challenges to DOMA keeps growing, and with that, so does the number of cases in which the Republican-led House is choosing to intervene."

    And the number of cases that are charging $600/hour to the American taxpayers to deprive others the right to have equal treatment under the law.

  • 6. Rick  |  May 2, 2012 at 6:04 am

    It's a Republican jobs program–for lawyers!

  • 7. Nancy  |  May 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    The government loves to waste taxpayers money!! They have been doing it for centuries now!! They want your money but do not speak out that you have no rights to say what they do with it!! For the people by the people is a joke in this country!! to many have died for the rights of other but do not have same rights in their home land!! Our country would be in much better shape economically if they had to learn to conserve like the rest of us and made a wage like we do!!

  • 8. devon  |  May 2, 2012 at 5:16 am

    Republicans in the house seem to have unlimited funds available to defend DOMA.

  • 9. halleache  |  May 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm

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