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Legal Filings
Feb 13, 2013

CREW Files Brief in Supreme Court Arguing DOMA Undermines Ethics Laws

Amicus Briefs (Legal Filings), Congress, Governance & Legislation, Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), Legal, Amicus Briefs, Supreme Court, Press Releases

U.S. Supreme CourtWashington, D.C. — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in United States v. Windsor, a lawsuit before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  CREW’s brief, co-authored with George Washington University Law School Professor Alan Morrison, points out the perverse effects DOMA has on ethics, tax, and bankruptcy laws by recognizing only opposite-sex marriages.  The First and Second Circuit Courts cited CREW’s arguments in striking down DOMA.

Read CREW's friend-of-the-court brief

“DOMA was not driven by rational considerations, but rather a desire to strike out at same-sex married couples regardless of the repercussions,” said Professor Alan Morrison.  “In its zeal to discriminate against same-sex couples, Congress inadvertently gave them a free pass to violate the very same ethics laws with which opposite-sex married couples must comply.”

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.  For example, public officials in same-sex marriages are excused from the Ethics in Government Act, meaning financial disclosure and anti-nepotism laws that apply to opposite-sex spouses don’t apply to same-sex spouses.  Similarly, same-sex couples are excused from tax and bankruptcy laws intended to prevent married couples from gaming the system to their financial benefit.

“Gay people are neither more nor less ethical than straight people.  It is impossible to imagine the Congress that so eagerly passed DOMA would have deliberately exempted same-sex couples from ethics laws if members had considered the issue for even a moment,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.  “If DOMA were not already indefensible on its own, its far-reaching impact on federal laws shows just how irrational the law is.”

For press inquiries, please contact David Merchant at 202-408-5565 or Alan Morrison at 202-994-7120 or