Prominent UO historian among those who filed an amicus brief in US Supreme Court case that contests the validity of the Defense of Marriage Act

51239223Recent blog entries on the websites for Inside Higher Ed and the American Historical Association provide details of an amicus brief filed March 1 in US v. Windsor, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court contesting the validity of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The brief, signed by the American Historical Association and a group of individual distinguished historians including UO professor of history and CSWS faculty affiliate Ellen Herman, argues that DOMA’s 1996 passage represented a sharp break from the long-term pattern of diversity in state marriage laws. That pattern illustrates that the significant inter-state contestation that characterizes same-sex marriage in the United States today has many historical precedents, from battles over miscegenation to degree of permissible consanguinity. Federal involvement in marriage has occurred rarely and only in instances where state authority had collapsed, such as the recognition of marriages among freedmen and women in the South during Reconstruction. Additionally, historical research has shown that marital regulation by states has been directed toward numerous social goals and cannot be reduced to a single or primary governmental interest in regulating heterosexual procreation.