Wednesday, November 10, 2010

GLAD Files Second DOMA Suit

The Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) has opened up a second judicial front in the fight to bring down the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), filing a suit with the Connecticut Federal District Court that challenges Section 3 of DOMA, which states that the federal government must only respect marriages between a man and a woman.  Section 3 was previously found to be unconstitutional in the Massachusetts Federal District Court ruling of Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management.

From GLAD's press release:

In Pedersen et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, GLAD represents five married same-sex couples and a widower [from Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire] who have all been denied federal rights and protections simply because they are married to a person of the same sex.

"DOMA must fall. In 1996, when Congress passed DOMA, the stated goal was to harm gay people and same-sex families with this law, and sadly, it has succeeded. Married gay and lesbian couples fall through the federal safety nets that exist for other married people," said Mary L. Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director for GLAD. "We have to keep the pressure on and get DOMA off the books before it does even more harm."

Filed today in Federal District Court in Connecticut, this suit addresses DOMA’s denial of marriages in connection with federal employees and retirees benefits programs, Social Security benefits, survivor benefits under federal pension laws, work leave to care for a spouse under the Family Medical Leave Act, and state retiree health insurance benefits that are controlled by federal tax law. Several plaintiffs who have paid additional federal income taxes because they cannot file a joint federal tax return as a married couple will join the suit once they are officially turned down for refunds from the IRS.

All three states represented in the case support marriage equality, and my prediction is that the CT Federal District Court is going to rule much in the same way that the MA court did: by coming to the obvious conclusion that DOMA Section 3 violates gay people's right to equal protection under the law.

Hats off to GLAD for its continued hard work on this issue: because of their efforts, it is only a matter of time before DOMA Section 3 becomes obsolete.

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