Law professors file amicus brief in Supreme Court same-sex marriage case
Two faculty members from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law are authors of an amicus brief to be read more…
Two faculty members from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law are authors of an amicus brief to be filed today with the Supreme Court of the United States.
The “friend of the court” brief is in the case of the United States vs. Windsor, which will decide whether Congress can deprive legally married gay couples of federal benefits otherwise available to married people.
In their brief, Catherine Smith, associate dean of institutional diversity and inclusiveness and associate professor at the Sturm College of Law, Susannah Pollvogt, adjunct professor of law at Sturm, and Tanya Washington, professor of law at Georgia State University, focus on the impact the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has on children of same-sex couples.
While the government argues that DOMA protects children by encouraging their opposite-sex parents to marry before raising children, the brief argues that by excluding same-sex married couples from federal benefits, DOMA “exacts an economic toll on children of same-sex married parents, and also stigmatizes all children of same-sex couples by declaring their families as inferior to those headed by opposite-sex couples.”
Specifically, the question before the Supreme Court is whether the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the “Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their state.”
After a 40-year relationship, Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer married in 2007 in Canada. When Spyer died in 2009, the Defense of Marriage Act prohibited the U.S. Internal Revenue Service from treating Windsor as a surviving spouse, despite the fact that the couple lived in New York, one of nine states where gay marriage is legal. Windsor says the DOMA law cost her more than $600,000 in state and federal estate taxes.
Smith’s scholarship, at present, focuses on equal protection rights of children with same-sex parents. Pollvogt has taught courses on the law of equal protection at the Sturm College of Law and the University of California, Irvine, School of Law. Her scholarship focuses on the Supreme Court’s historical and contemporary interpretation of the federal Equal Protection Clause.