(New York, NY) The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) submitted a friend-of-the-court briefon Friday, September 7, 2012,  to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Windsor v. United Statesasking the court to hold the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. LDF’s brief urges the court to apply heightened scrutiny to the law because it intentionally relegates a particular group to inferior social status.

LDF’s brief states that DOMA and other laws that purposefully infringe on the rights of gay people are “analogous to the racial caste system effectuated under ‘separate but equal’ in an important respect:  they create and perpetuate a social hierarchy that is premised on the superiority of one group over another.  DOMA’s denial of marital benefits under federal law to gays and lesbians subordinates them within the institution of marriage and, like early laws that were designed to oppress African Americans, relegates them to an unequal and inferior status as a group.”

On June 6, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that DOMA violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and ordered the federal government to refund $363,053 in estate taxes that Edie Windsor, a widow who was married to a woman, paid because it did not recognize her marriage.

DOMA is the law that denies marital benefits under federal law to gays and lesbians who are legally married under state law while extending benefits to married heterosexual couples.  Oral arguments in Windsor v. United Statesare scheduled for September 27, 2012.