House Advisory Group Seeks to Defend DOMA in Cozen Case

The number of interested parties in the same-sex marriage benefits dispute involving a deceased Cozen O'Connor partner continues to grow as a congressional committee seeks to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives asked a federal judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to grant it intervenor status solely to defend Section 3 of DOMA against challenges that it violates the equal protection or substantive due process components of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

... David and Joan Farley, the parents of deceased partner Sarah Ellyn Farley, are fighting with Farley's wife, Jennifer Tobits, about who should get the $41,000 or so left from Farley's profit-sharing plan. The parents argue the ERISA-qualified plan implicates federal law, meaning DOMA would not allow the term "spouse" in the plan to be considered a person of the same sex. Tobits argues that because ERISA doesn't define the term "spouse," the parties need only look to the plan itself and don't have to reach whether DOMA applies.

But in case DOMA's constitutionality is addressed, Tobits had put the DOJ and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office on notice that she would challenge the validity of the laws. So far, Pennsylvania has not responded or sought intervenor status.