Federal judge denies motion to stay in DOMA challenge

[JURIST] United States District Court for the District of Connecticut [official website] on Wednesday denied a motion to stay [order] in Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, another challenge to Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text]. Specifically the lawsuit challenges the legality of the prohibition imposed on the federal government of not recognizing same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) of the House of Representatives [official website] requested the motion [JURIST report] to stay pending the outcome of the appeal in Windsor v. United States. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) [advocacy website], who are representing the plaintiffs, strongly opposed the motion. Judge Vanessa Bryant denied the motion, citing prejudice to the plaintiffs. She also disagreed that the issue now before the court in Windsor was the same pending before the court in Pedersen. She wrote in her opinion, "Without addressing the first factor regarding a likelihood of success on the merits, BLAG has failed to articulate any suggestion that it would be 'irreparably injured absent a stay,' nor has it suggested that any other party would be 'substantially injured' if the case were to proceed." She also found that the public interest weighed against the entry of a motion to stay.

The first of the DOMA cases will reach the US Supreme Court [official website] at the start of the new term on October 1. Last week the US House of Representatives [official website] petitioned the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality [JURIST report] of Section 3 of DOMA. Last month US Senators filed an amicus brief [JURIST report] in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] asking that the appeals court uphold DOMA as constitutional. Also in June the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the DOMA is unconstitutional. In May the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Section 3 is unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment [text], which was the first appeals decision on the law. These rulings all came after the Department of Justice [official website] announced [JURIST report] last year that it would no longer defend the law as constitutional.

 

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