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Ken Turchi
IU Maurer School of Law

Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011

IU Maurer School of Law to hold symposium on future of Defense of Marriage Act

March 24, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A leading civil rights lawyer and a panel of legal and academic experts will convene at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law on Thursday, April 7, at 3 p.m. for a symposium on recent developments on same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Law School

The symposium, "Same-Sex Marriage and the Future of DOMA: Law, Politics, Federalism, and Families," focuses on lawsuits challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act and recent controversies over whether the government should continue defending DOMA. Maura Healey, chief of the Civil Rights Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, will deliver a lecture titled "One State's Challenge to DOMA," followed by a panel of experts consisting of:

  • Thomas M. Fisher, solicitor general, State of Indiana
  • Dawn Johnsen, Walter W. Foskett Professor, IU Maurer School of Law, former depty assistant attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Brian Powell, Rudy Professor of Sociology, IU College of Arts and Sciences,co-author of Counted Out: Same-sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of the Family
  • Deborah Widiss, associate professor, IU Maurer School of Law

Steve Sanders, a lecturer at the University of Michigan Law School, will moderate the panel discussion.

The first state to legalize same-sex marriage, Massachusetts filed suit against the Defense of Marriage Act in 2009. A companion suit was filed by same-sex couples. Last year, a federal judge ruled that DOMA violates the Constitution's 10th Amendment and equal protection guarantee. The suit is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

On Feb. 23, the Obama Justice Department announced it agreed that DOMA was unconstitutional and that it would cease defending the Massachusetts case and several other lawsuits against the act. However, on March 10, Speaker John Boehner announced that the House of Representatives would intervene to defend the suits.

The symposium is sponsored by the IU Maurer School of Law, its LGBT Alumni Advisory Board, the IU College of Arts and Sciences, the IU Office of Affirmative Action, the IU GLBT Alumni Association, the Center on Law, Society, and Culture, and OUTlaw, the Law School's LGBT student organization.

Live video streaming of the event will be available from the symposium website, The law school has applied for Indiana continuing legal education credit.

A reception with the panelists will follow the symposium. The event is free and open to the public.