For the first time ever, the U.S. government is appearing at the Supreme Court to:
(1) defend lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens in general
(2) defend same-gender couples in particular
(3) argue for their right to marry; and
(4) argue that laws about LGBT people must be judged the same way as laws about race and sex.
No matter the outcome, two facts alone make this case historical: never before has the Supreme Court heard such comprehensive, sweeping advocacy in favor of LGBT people, and never before has the federal government been the advocate.
On February 22, the Department of Justice filed a 67-page brief with the Supreme Court, which cited 60 other court cases, and mentioned 30 professional references. In this brief, the defendant in the case, the U.S. government, explains why it agrees with the plaintiff, Edith Windsor, that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, and the government explains why it is wrong for the Internal Revenue Service to charge her $363,053 just because her legal marriage was to a female. The government also explains why laws that classify LGBT people as a group must be examined the same way as laws that classify people based on race or sex.
Today, a small number of politicians, lobbyists, and lawyers still argue that society should discriminate against LGBT people via laws like DOMA. Their arguments are nicely itemized in another brief filed in this same case.