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3:10-cv-01750 #116

3:10-cv-01750 #116

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Published by Equality Case Files
Doc #116 - ORDER Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment granted; BLAG motion to dismiss denied
Doc #116 - ORDER Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment granted; BLAG motion to dismiss denied

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Published by: Equality Case Files on Jul 31, 2012
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1UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTDISTRICT OF CONNECTICUTJOANNE PEDERSEN, et al., :Plaintiffs, ::v. : CIVIL ACTION NO.: 3:10-cv-1750 (VLB)OFFICE OF PERSONNEL :MANAGEMENT, et al., :Defendants, ::v. ::BIPARTISAN LEGAL ADVISORY GROUP :OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF :REPRESENTATIVES , :Intervenor-Defendant. : July 31, 2012MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARYJUDGMENT [Dkt. #60] AND DENYING INTERVENOR-DEFENDANT’S MOTION TODISMISS [Dkt. #80]Plaintiffs, homosexual individuals legally married to individuals of thesame sex under the laws of the States of Connecticut, Vermont, and NewHampshire, bring this suit challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act,Pub. L. No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419 (1996), codified at, 1 U.S.C. §7, (“DOMA”), as aviolation of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of Equal Protection. Plaintiffs’Complaint requests declaratory and injunctive relief, seeking a judgmentdeclaring Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional and void and an order permanentlyenjoining the federal government from administering and enforcing DOMA’sdefinition of “marriage” and “spouse” to exclude homosexual couples legallymarried under state law from receiving recognition and benefits under the
Case 3:10-cv-01750-VLB Document 116 Filed 07/31/12 Page 1 of 104
2plethora of federal laws which rely on DOMA’s definitions. Currently pendingbefore the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. #60] filed by thePlaintiffs asserting that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, alongwith a Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. #80] filed by the Intervenor-Defendants, theBipartisan Legal Advisor Group of the United States House of Representatives,(“BLAG”) pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. As bothmotions seek ultimate resolution of this matter, the Court will consider andreview the motions simultaneously, addressing the fundamental question ofwhether or not Section 3 of DOMA can withstand the applicable level ofconstitutional scrutiny.I. Factual BackgroundA. History of DOMADOMA was enacted on September 21, 1996 and signed into law byPresident Clinton after passing both houses of Congress with large majorities.Section 3 of DOMA, the provision which is the subject of the Plaintiffs’constitutional challenge, codifies the following definition of the terms “marriage”and “spouse” as a matter of federal law:In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, orof any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the variousadministrative bureaus and agencies of the UnitedStates, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal unionbetween one man and one woman as husband and wife,and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of theopposite sex who is a husband or a wife.1 U.S.C. §7. As expressly stated in the House Judiciary Committee Report onDOMA, DOMA was drafted as “a response to a very particular development in the
Case 3:10-cv-01750-VLB Document 116 Filed 07/31/12 Page 2 of 104
3State of Hawaii,” where the “orchestrated legal assault being waged againsttraditional heterosexual marriage by gay rights groups and their lawyers” waspoised to achieve “its greatest breakthrough.” H.R. Rep. No. 104-664, at 2-4(1996),
reprinted in 
1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2905-23 (hereinafter the “House Report” or“Report”).The “breakthrough” alluded to in the Report was the Hawaii SupremeCourt’s ruling in
Baehr v. Lewin 
, 74 Haw. 530, 852 P.2d 44 (1993), which allowedfor the possibility that a Hawaii Revised Statute, Haw. Rev. Stat. §572-1 (1985),which set forth the “[r]equisites of valid marriage contract” and limited state-sanctioned marriages to relationships “between a man and a woman” would bestruck down as unconstitutional in violation of the Equal Protection clause of theHawaii Constitution. The Hawaii Supreme Court held that “on its face and [. . . ]as applied, HRS §572-1 denies same-sex couples access to the marital status andits concomitant rights and benefits.”
, 74 Haw. at 564. The
Courtfurther recognized “sex” as a suspect category for purposes of Equal Protectionanalysis under the Equal Protection Clause of the Hawaii Constitution, mandatingsatisfaction of strict scrutiny analysis, the most rigorous form of constitutionalinquiry, in order to withstand challenge to its constitutionality under the HawaiiConstitution.
. at 580. Concerned by this apparent willingness by judges inHawaii “to foist the newly-coined institution of homosexual ‘marriage’ upon anunwilling Hawaiian public,” and the “possibility that other States could, throughthe protracted and complex process of litigation, be forced to follow suit,”Congress, through DOMA, endeavored to enact a federal definition of marriage,
Case 3:10-cv-01750-VLB Document 116 Filed 07/31/12 Page 3 of 104

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