Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington or CREW have filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court in the case of US v. Windsor. The suit challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. CREW’s brief was co-authored by George Washington University Law School Professor Alan Morrison, and notes that there is one very big problem with DOMA. It would allow for same-sex couples to violate a variety of ethics, tax, and bankruptcy laws.
The First and Second Circuit Courts have cited CREW’s arguments as part of their reasoning to strike down DOMA.
Morrison stated “DOMA was not driven by rational considerations, but rather a desire to strike out at same-sex married couples regardless of the repercussions. 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.”
Because of DOMA, a number of married and partnered same-sex couples are exempt from “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.”
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan also pointed out that “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. If DOMA were not already indefensible on its own, its far-reaching impact on federal laws shows just how irrational the law is.”