DOMA Challenge Heads to Court

On Thursday, May 6, 2010, the Federal District Court in Boston will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), in the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) in March 2009.

The hearing will address the central issue of the case – is DOMA constitutional? –six years after the first same-sex couples in the country started marrying in Massachusetts, the result of GLAD’s groundbreaking marriage case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.

Arguing before U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro on behalf of seven married same-sex couples and three widowers will be Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director. Bonauto was the lead attorney in Goodridge.

As a result of DOMA, passed by Congress in 1996, plaintiffs in GLAD’s lawsuit have been harmed in various ways, including denial of survivor benefits on a deceased spouse’s pension; denial of health insurance coverage for a spouse on a federal family plan; denial of Social Security death and widower benefits; and the payment of extra federal income taxes due to the inability to file jointly as married.

In opposing the government’s Motion to Dismiss and arguing in favor of the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment, GLAD will assert that DOMA Section 3 violates the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection as applied to federal income taxation, Social Security benefits, and federal employee and retiree benefits.

Information about the case, the plaintiffs, and the attorneys representing them can be found at www.glad.org/doma.

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