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The latest in ongoing court challenges to Section 3 of DOMA

DOMA trials

By Scottie Thomaston

Department of Justice
Department of Justice

More challenges to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are still working their way through the courts, and EqualityOnTrial is working to keep up with the latest developments in the ongoing cases. Here is a round-up of some of the most recent updates:

Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management: This case is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the latest filing, the parties to the case have agreed that the appeal should be dismissed. Golinski and her wife won at the district court level, and the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA in United States v. Windsor. Golinski’s wife has been receiving health benefits at the same time the government pursued an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. The latest request would simply leave the district court’s order in place, now that the Supreme Court has invalidated the statute.

Dragovich v. Department of Treasury: This is another case that is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. In the latest filing, the Justice Department and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) – who stepped in to defend Section 3 of DOMA on behalf of House Republicans – are asking for the dismissal of BLAG’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit. They’re also asking for BLAG’s removal from the case. (BLAG is only defending Section 3 of DOMA, which has been invalidated, so they are opting to remove themselves from these challenges.) The Justice Department still has its own appeal in this case, and neither BLAG nor the Justice Department have asked for dismissal of that appeal at this point. (The case involves more than just the now invalid statute.) The case is still stayed until August 1.

McLaughlin v. Panetta: This is a challenge to Section 3 of DOMA as well as statutes defining marriage for purposes of military benefits. BLAG asked to withdraw from the case last week, and the Justice Department told the court that in light of Windsor it would construe the military benefit statutes to apply to both opposite-sex and same-sex married couples. The Justice Department argued that judgment should not be entered for the plaintiffs for procedural reasons – they argued the case was brought to the wrong court, as they have done previously. In the latest filings, the stay in the case was continued, and the Justice Department is ordered to issue a status report by September 9 on the government’s progress in implementing benefits for same-sex couples. The court granted BLAG’s motion to withdraw as well.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for these filings

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