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Chadbourne & Parke represented OutServe-SLDN in an amicus curiae brief filed with the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, the case that challenged the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional yesterday.
The brief, filed by Chadbourne partner Abbe Lowell and counsel Christopher Man, argued that DOMA harms military families and compromises national security and urged the court to strike down the law as unconstitutional. The brief explained that the military provides numerous benefits and support services to the families of its service members, but DOMA prevents the military from recognizing and extending benefits to certain military families by essentially nullifying otherwise legal marriages between service members and their spouses of the same gender. The brief also argued that the issue is more than just about fairness but also impacts national security: “These benefits address an important source of worry for service members, allowing them to focus on the tasks at hand. A Marine who is ordered to kick down a door or to take a hill in the midst of incoming gunfire should not have to worry about what would happen to his or her spouse if the Marine were to die in battle.”
Chadbourne is currently co-counsel with OutServe-SLDN in a landmark suit filed in October 2011 in federal court, McLaughlin v. Panetta, on behalf of eight gay and lesbian military families challenging the constitutionality of DOMA as applied to the military benefits provided by Title 10, Title 32 and Title 38 of the United States Code. McLaughlin was stayed while the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of DOMA in the Windsor case.