Wednesday, July 08, 2009

[BiNet USA]: BiNet USA Applauds Massachusetts Lawsuit Challenging DOMA

Media Advisory

Date: 07/08/2009 05:30 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time Contact: 1-800-585-9368

Today Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Boston claiming that the Congress, in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), "overstepped its authority, undermined states' efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards gay and lesbian people."

BiNet USA immediately repeated it's support of any action that would result in the ultimate removal of DOMA, President Gary North saying "we applaud the action". While BiNet USA member and Massachusetts resident Robyn Ochs who is married to Peg Preble added, "Even living in an 'equality state,' you'd be amazed at how many rights and protection same-sex couples still don't have, due to the lack of federal recognition of our marriages. DOMA obstructs the ability of those states that practice marriage equality to treat all of its citizens fairly. It's time for DOMA to be struck down."

The lawsuit argues that the DOMA, which was enacted in 1996, precludes same-sex spouses in Massachusetts from a wide range of protections, including federal income tax credits, employment and retirement benefits, health insurance coverage, and Social Security payments. The defendants named in the lawsuit include the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the United States itself.

The lawsuit questions the constitutionality of Section 3 of the law, which defines the word "marriage" for the purpose of federal law as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." The suit alleges that the law violates the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reserves to the states all powers except those granted to the federal government. It also alleges that the law violates Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which limits the power of Congress to attach conditions to the receipt of federal funds.

Janson Wu, attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), which filed its own lawsuit challenging the law said, "We applaud the Commonwealth's decision to seek to protect its married citizens from the harms caused by federal discrimination."

Congressman Barney Frank's office also issued a statement saying in part, "Martha Coakley’s decision to join the lawsuit against the part of The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies federal recognition of thousands of valid Massachusetts marriages deserves the support and gratitude of all of the state’s residents."

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Tags: DOMA, Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Marriage Equality, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Robyn Ochs

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