Boston Foundation joins amicus brief calling for Defense of Marriage Act to be overturned

February 27, 2013

DOMA forces discrimination against legally-married same sex couples, complicates business practices

Click cover to download a PDF of the brief.
Boston – The Boston Foundation today joined nearly 300 businesses and other organizations urging the United States Supreme Court to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The group filed an amicus brief calling for the Court to uphold a ruling that found DOMA unconstitutional when the court hears arguments in United States v. Windsor March 27.

“DOMA effectively forces businesses to discriminate against some of their own employees, while jumping through hoops to mitigate that harm,” said Paul S. Grogan, President of the Boston Foundation. “As a practical matter, it creates administrative, business and ethical headaches for workplaces throughout Massachusetts and across the nation, and as a social justice issue, it establishes an unacceptable, two tier system within our businesses and communities.”

The amicus brief, filed today, argues that DOMA forces employers to treat married same-sex couples as unmarried for workplace rules, tax calculations, and issues related to healthcare and other benefits, including family leave and continuation of health benefits. It also notes the administrative complexity the law requires, forcing businesses to administer dual payroll and benefits systems, and if they choose, create workarounds in order to “rectify the invidious treatment of a class of their married employees by creating and funding parallel systems of benefits for employees lawfully married to same-sex spouses.”

A broad group of 278 businesses, cities and other employers, along with other organizations that represent employers, signed the brief in an effort to advise the Supreme Court of the detrimental impact of DOMA on their organizations and their workers. It calls for the Supreme Court to affirm a judgment by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in United States v. Windsor that found the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional.

The brief also notes the possible litigation risk and the detrimental effects of the law on the morale of the institutions, which “DOMA conscripts… to become the face of its mandate that two separate castes of married persons be identified and separately treated,” even in states that prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In 2012, the Boston Foundation established the Equality Fund, a permanent, committee-advised, Field of Interest Fund with a mission to provide ongoing support to advance the equitable treatment of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, and Queer (“LGBTQ”) people and their families in Greater Boston, and improve their quality of life over the long term. In order to accelerate the fund’s grantmaking efforts, the Foundation committed $250,000 over the next five years while the Fund’s endowment is being raised and strengthened. The Fund is the first of its kind in Greater Boston.


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of more than $800 million.  In 2012, the Foundation and its donors made $88 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of close to $60 million. The Foundation is a partner in philanthropy, with some 900 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.  The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener and sponsor of special initiatives that address the region’s most pressing challenges.  The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), an operating unit of the Foundation, offers special consulting services to philanthropists.  Through its services and its work to advance the broader field of strategic philanthropy, TPI has influenced billions of dollars of giving worldwide. For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit or call 617-338-1700.