Federal court tosses lawsuit challenging federal Defense of Marriage Act

ADF attorneys defended federal law defining marriage as one man, one woman
Monday, August 24, 2009

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A federal court Monday threw out a lawsuit filed against the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The decision to dismiss the case comes just over a month since the same court threw out a portion of the lawsuit that challenged California’s constitutional amendment protecting marriage. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys represent ProtectMarriage.com in the suit.

“Marriage is not just any two people in a committed relationship. Americans understand and believe that there’s more to a marriage than that. Therefore we are pleased that this challenge to the federal law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been dismissed,” said ADF Senior Counsel Brian Raum. “If another lawsuit is filed against the federal DOMA, we are confident that it will be found to be constitutional.”

In December 2008, two men filed the lawsuit Smelt v. United States of America claiming that the California marriage amendment, which voters decisively passed as Proposition 8 in last November’s election, violates the U.S. Constitution.  They also challenged the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The two men obtained a “marriage” license in California during the short window of time in which such licenses were allowed to be issued to members of the same sex.

On July 16, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division, threw out the portion of the lawsuit filed against the California marriage amendment. The court dismissed the rest of the suit Monday, saying that the case had been improperly filed in state court prior to being moved to federal court and that, therefore, the federal court does not have jurisdiction over the case.

ADF-allied attorneys Andrew Pugno of Folsom and Sam Kim of Buena Park also represent ProtectMarriage.com in the case.  Pugno and ADF attorneys continue to defend marriage in a separate lawsuit, Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.