Obama asks Supreme Court to overturn gay marriage ban
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Barack Obama administration took another step toward institutionalising gay marriage, formally asking the US Supreme Court to strike down a 1996 law defining marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman.
The request was contained in a legal brief filed Friday with the US court, whose nine justices will next month review whether or not to repeal the federal Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans marriage between homosexuals.
The document marks the first time a president has endorsed same-sex marriage rights before the Supreme Court.
According to the filing, the Defence of Marriage Act “violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection” before the law stipulated by the US Constitution.
DOMA “denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples,” read the brief signed by US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
The case before the Supreme Court involves Edith Windsor, a lesbian who married in Canada in 2007 but whose spouse and partner of 40 years died.
She was required to pay more than $360,000 in federal estate taxes because she was not considered married under DOMA.