Legal Filings

Legal Filings
Nov 03, 2011

CREW: Ethics Loopholes Created by DOMA Make Law Unconstitutional

Washington, D.C. – Today CREW filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a lawsuit before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Commonwealth of Mass. v. U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Serv.  CREW’s brief, written with the assistance of George Washington University Law School Professor Alan Morrison, points out how DOMA’s exclusion of married same-sex couples from the terms “marriage” and “spouse” undermines a host of ethics and other statutes designed to bring transparency and accountability to the government.  Click here to read CREW’s brief.

“In its zeal to discriminate against same-sex couples, Congress passed a blatantly unconstitutional law without stopping to consider DOMA’s impact on other important laws, such as those governing ethics,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.

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. 

CREW also pointed out that while Congress justified DOMA as purportedly money-saving legislation, a report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office estimates DOMA costs taxpayers almost $1 billion per year.

“DOMA should be struck down for its discriminatory impact alone, but by pointing out its far-reaching, unintended consequences, CREW hopes to demonstrate how irrational it really is,” said Ms. Sloan.

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