NPR logo Ethics Watchdog Says DOMA Created Loopholes Gay Bosses Could Exploit

Ethics Watchdog Says DOMA Created Loopholes Gay Bosses Could Exploit

Quite a few friend-of-the-court legal briefs have been offered to the federal appellate judges in Boston presiding over the case in which opponents of the Defense of Marriage Act are trying to overturn the law.

Many of the law's critics have argued that the 1996 law was enacted so hastily that it's chock full of unintended consequences. A group of House Democrats on Thursday filed a brief that made similar claims on Thursday.

Along those lines, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has what it thinks is a killer argument in its brief against the controversial law: that it unknowingly created loopholes in federal nepotism laws that could be exploited by an unscrupulous gay couple.

Because the law doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, it would essentially neutralize other federal laws that keep a husband or wife who is a federal manager from putting a spouse on the federal payroll.

An excerpt from CREW's news release:

"In its zeal to discriminate against same-sex couples, Congress passed a blatantly unconstitutional law without stopping to consider DOMA's impact on other important laws, such as those governing ethics," said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.

Current anti-nepotism laws impose bans on hiring or appointing spouses for government positions, but thanks to DOMA, do not apply to same-sex married couples. As a result, an agency head could hire his or her same-sex spouse despite the obvious conflict of interest. Similarly, financial disclosure obligations imposed by the Ethics in Government Act and other statutes do not apply to same-sex spouses. These consequences highlight the fundamental problems with this irrational and over-broad legislation.