Press Release November 21, 2011

Goodwin Procter Signs Amicus Brief Challenging Defense of Marriage Act

Goodwin has joined an extensive list of prominent businesses, law firms and professional organizations, in signing an amicus brief challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Filed in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on November 4, 2011, the brief outlines how DOMA imposes burdens on American businesses. Signers include Google, Microsoft, Xerox and BNY Mellon.

DOMA, passed by Congress in 1996, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and thus excludes legally married same-sex couples in Massachusetts from receiving the same federal marital benefits and responsibilities that apply to heterosexual married couples.

Because of DOMA, employers must either treat employees in legally recognized same-sex marriages differently from those in legally recognized heterosexual marriages, or they must take on the cost and administrative burden to make up for the federal discrimination.

In July 2010, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders’ (GLAD) won a ruling in the federal district court that DOMA is unconstitutional, as did the Massachusetts Attorney General on behalf of the Commonwealth.

In addition to signing on to the businesses, law firms and professional organizations brief, Goodwin also represents The American Psychological Association, The Massachusetts Psychological Association, The American Psychiatric Association, The National Association of Social Workers and its Massachusetts Chapter, The American Medical Association, and The American Academy of Pediatrics as Amici Curiae in support of the Plaintiffs and in support of the GLAD judgment. The brief presents substantial scientific evidence showing, among other things, that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality, is generally not chosen, and is highly resistant to change; that there is no scientific basis for concluding that gay and lesbian parents are any less fit or capable than heterosexual parents, or that their children are any less psychologically healthy and well adjusted; and that the factors that positively affect the adjustment of children are not dependent on the gender of parents. A copy of the brief appears here.

In 2001, Goodwin Procter wrote the amicus brief and represented GLAD in Goodridge et al. v. Dept. Public Health. In the historic opinion issued on November 18, 2003, GLAD won a ruling from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that gay and lesbian couples can no longer be excluded from civil marriage rights in Massachusetts. The 4-3 opinion was the first of its kind by a final appellate court in the U.S.

Goodwin offers valuable professional development and networking opportunities to strengthen connections among members of our GLBT community. Our partner-led GLBT Initiative focuses on recruiting, advancing and retaining GLBT attorneys while promoting a culture of inclusion across the firm.