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DOMA lawyer uses 1885 case to support the law

DOMA support rests on 19th century polygamy statute
Paul D. Clement.jpg

The lawyer defending the Defense of Marriage Act is using an 1885 polygamy case as one of the reasons why the US federal government cannot honor gay marriages.

Paul Clement was in a New York court this week supporting DOMA's language. The law was passed in 1996 and prohibits the US government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even in states where such unions are legal.

According to Buzzfeed, the lawyer pointed to an 1885 US Supreme Court  case involving polygamy in the then Utah territory. The court wrote that the traditional definition of marriage, one man and woman, is '"the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement.'

Clement's clients are the Republican leaders of the US House of Representatives. They have defended DOMA cases ever since 2011 when President Barack Obama informed the Justice Department not to argue for the constitutionality of DOMA. The House may support laws, in courts, if the president refuses to do so.

In this Second Circuit Court of Appeals case, a Edith Windsor maintains DOMA is unconstitional. The widow is suing because she was required to pay a $350,000 federal estate tax bill. The government does not recognize her marriage to a woman.

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