Waldlaw Blog

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Taking On the Federal Defense of Marriage Act

It's almost spring and change is in the air.... Yesterday, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) in Boston filed a lawsuit in federal district court, challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The suit is being brought on behalf of eight same-sex couples and three widowers, all of whom were married in Massachusetts after same-sex marriage became legal there in 2004. All have applied for federal benefits, but been denied them under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The federal DOMA has two separate provisions: one that denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages; and another which provides that states don't have to recognize same-sex marriages entered into in other states. The lawsuit filed by GLAD only addresses the federal recognition issue; and it focuses specifically on marital benefits related to Social Security, federal income tax, federal employees and retirees, and the issuance of passports -- the issues that most effect same-sex couples, and which are most understandable to the general public. GLAD has considerable information about the case on their website, including a full description of the people involved and the actual damage done to them by federal non-recognition of their marriages. This appears to be the right lawsuit, filed at the right time, by the right organization (already responsible for the marriage victories in Massachusetts and Connecticut). May the force be with them!


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