“Defendants’ Brief in Opposition of Motion to Dismiss” is a Great Summer Read

you could read it in a meadow

Nothing will ever be as glorious as Judge Walker’s 138-page ruling on Proposition 8, which was epic in every way possible — but this 31-page Brief in Opposition of Motion to Dismiss Golinski v. The United States of Personnel Management is also extremely validating and the best thing I’ve read all week (well, this was pretty good too).

I recommend you print it out and bring it to the pool with a cocktail and some kleenex. But first, in order to understand how this 31-page feast of excellence came to be and what purpose it serves, you should read What the Heck is Going On With Doma?.

I’m sure you’re going to read it anyhow, but if you still need convincing then listen up: because gay history isn’t usually taught in schools (YET!), it’s likely many of you homogays will learn quite a bit from Section 1i: “Gays and Lesbians Have Been Subject to a History of Discrimination”, a.k.a. “The Most Heinous Examples of How the Federal and Local Government and Private Parties and Have Persecuted Gay People Throughout History.” It goes through custody fights, gay bar raids, the whole shebang, right up ’til the present day.

Did you know that the Postal Service used to provide the government with names of people who subscribed to “physique magazines” and then fired federal employees based on those suspicions? I did not.

But the fun doesn’t end there. You will also enjoy other gripping sections like “Gays and Lesbians Exhibit Immutable Characteristics that Distinguish Them as a Group” and “Gays and Lesbians are Minorities with Limited Political Power” and my future ‘zine name, “Sexual Orientation Bears No Relation to Legitimate Policy Objectives or Ability to Perform or Contribute to Society.” and the grand finale “DOMA FAILS HEIGHTENED SCRUTINY” (their all-caps, not mine).

As you read this I want you to remind yourself “this is from the Obama administration.” I know that many people have issues with Obama, but I personally will be giving his campaign a round of applause.

I don’t know, I almost cried when I read “This record evidences the kind of animus and stereotype-based thinking that the Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.” and I almost laughed when I read “There is no evidence in the legislative record that denying federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married under state law operates in any way to encourage responsible child-rearing, whether by opposite-sex or same-sex couples, and it is hard to imagine what such evidence would look like.”

Check it out and let me know what you think!!!!

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3198 articles for us.


  1. This and my other favorite reading on the topic, Martha Nussbaum’s masterpiece book “From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law”…I think I have my summer reading set out for me and will finally get a handle on due process and equal protection as they pertain to gays and lesbians. (i read nussbaum’s book once already but i have to tackle it again because it is so effing dense and she is so awesome and brilliant…you guys should too!)

    the tides look to be turning…i hope this is the real deal

  2. No matter how comprehensive and well-formed the document’s arguments may be, legislators who oppose same-sex marriage will not be swayed by its contents. Fear can’t be rationalized away; religiously indoctrinated fear is even worse.

    People who firmly believe in what mainstream Christianity teaches are incapable of accepting logic over religion. Luckily, Christian legislators are usually more concerned with remaining re-electable and favored by public opinion than with their own beliefs. I feel like the only way to win this fight for equality is with time: we have to continue educating (and enflaming) our peers about these issues until the general population cares enough to vote accordingly.

    I feel like this will take a long time because people are so complacent these days. Other problems exist because of this issue, too. For example, racism is still a problem, but the average American acts like it’s an artifact of the past. Pretending like it doesn’t exist means they ignore it, or even participate. If racism is still a problem almost 150 years after our first legal steps to combat it (it took 91 years to even decide that everyone is equal and another 57 years to make to today where racism still exists), how long will it take for the LGBT community to garner some acceptance (and REAL legislative protection)?

    • The brief is for judges though, not legislators. There are certainly idiot homophobic judges out there, but this is a fairly technical document making certain very specific legal arguments for non-politicians.

  3. wow these are beautiful excerpts. and totally relevant to my current interests, there was a stupid opinion article in my college paper today about why gay marriage shouldn’t be legal, on the basis of procreation. not only is that argument tired, wrong and obviously incorrect, this combats it succinctly and more poignantly than my 20 page thesis does.

    • that’s funny. because I read this. and it was awesome.

      I actually never thought I could enjoy reading pages of legal stuff. Guess that means I’m a lawyer now.

  4. I just need to say that as a law student I appreciate your in depth/ accurate coverage of legal issues! Thanks, k, Cool!

  5. Also… the case citation for “High Tech Gays” may be the best thing I have ever seen in a brief. I love you 9th Circuit.

  6. I just read the brief with a friend via IM and kept commenting things like “pg. 26, ln 1-13 is SO badass” and “pg. 24, ln 10-7 is so fucking apt.”

    Thank you for the link and the legal breakdown/summary.

    • I don’t where the “summer” came from, I don’t remember typing that. I think autocorrect invaded my laptop.

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