GLAD Challenges DOMA In Federal Court

The Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) have filed a federal challenge to Section 3 of the Defense Of Marriage Act in a Boston court.

GLAD filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Boston on behalf of eight married couples and three surviving spouses from Massachusetts who have been denied federal legal protections available to spouses. Two of these couples will be filing suit after receiving rejections of their amended tax returns from the IRS. Each plaintiff is currently eligible for a particular program or benefit, applied for it, and was denied that legal protection because of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). DOMA was enacted in 1996 before any state began issuing marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples. It has two substantive parts. Section 2 authorizes states to establish policies with respect to marriages of same-sex couples. Section 3 deals with federal discrimination and is the only portion of DOMA challenged in GLAD’s lawsuit. (Section 1 merely names the act.)

GLAD explains their reasoning:

GLAD believes Section 3 of the law violates the federal government’s promise of equal protection of the laws contained in the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. DOMA takes married couples and divides them into two groups – those who are respected and those who are effectively “unmarried” by operation of DOMA and are denied all federal legal protections and responsibilities. In GLAD’s view, there is no adequate justification for the federal government’s non-recognition of valid state marriages of same-sex couples. DOMA Section 3 is also unprecedented because determinations of marital status are made by states and not the federal government. For the first time in our nation’s history, this law requires the federal government to override a state’s decision about who is married as to an entire class of marriages. DOMA Section 3 is a radical and unjustifiable departure from the division of power between the states and federal government.