The challenges to DOMA began March 3, 2009, when the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, with lawyer Mary Bonauto heading the case, filed a challenge to Section 3 of DOMA on behalf of several couples or previously married people in federal court in Massachusetts. Later, a similar lawsuit was filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, arguing that Massachusetts itself had a claim that DOMA violated its rights as a state. Following that, Lambda and the ACLU filed lawsuits on behalf of federal court employee Karen Golinski and widow Edith Windsor, respectively.
After all of the parties won at the trial-court level, with judges of varying backgrounds striking down the federal definition of marriage on differing grounds.
During the course of these lawsuits’ progression, the Obama administration’s Department of Justice switched sides in the DOMA lawsuits, with Attorney General Eric Holder announcing on Feb. 23, 2011, that he and President Obama had themselves decided that courts should use heightened scrutiny to examine laws based on sexual orientation and that, under that heightened scrutiny, DOMA’s Section 3 is unconstitutional. House Republican leaders, holding a majority on the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, subsequently took up the defense of DOMA.
Then, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston and Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed that DOMA’s Section 3 was unconstitutional. The Second Circuit — hearing Windsor’s appeal —went further, also deciding, in agreement with an argument made by the Obama administration, that laws targeting gay and lesbian people for differential treatment should be subjected to heightened scrutiny.
All appealed, and the Supreme Court accepted Windsor’s challenge in December 2012, asking about the constitutionality of DOMA but also about whether the administration’s changed position on the law meant there no longer is a real case and whether the House group, BLAG, has standing to defend the law.
On March 27, the justices heard oral arguments in the case.
Courtesy of Buzzfeed