Friday, May 7, 2010

DOMA is challenged

Will Buchanan of The Christian Science Monitor reported on yesterday's challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples.  The challenge began in a federal courtroom in Boston.  At issue is whether or not gay couples legally married under state law are entitled to the same federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive.

Wrote Buchanan:
Eight same-sex couples and three widowers, who filed their suit last year, are challenging the 1996 federal law known as DOMA, which bans gay marriage. They argue DOMA is unconstitutional because it denies them equal protection under the law.

The case puts the Obama administration in an unusual situation. The president has said he would like to see DOMA repealed, but the Justice Department is tasked with defending the law.

“The government does not presently support DOMA and would like to see it repealed, But we do argue for its constitutionality,” said Justice Department attorney W. Scott Simpson at the onset of his argument. He filed a motion to dismiss the challenge to the federal law, arguing for the US government’s right and responsibility to apply federal law as it sees fit, regardless of some states’ decision to “experiment” with broadening the traditional definition of marriage.
This is not the first time that the Obama Administration has defended the discriminatory law.  A previous defense used the usual insulting language heard from the Bush administration to deny same-sex couples the basic rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) is supporting the challenge.  This is the same group that won the 2003 case in Massachusetts that legalized same-sex marriage.  GLAD attorney Mary Bonauto (center of photo, above) asked the court to rule in favor of her clients in a summary judgment – a decision made before a full trial ensues. She argued that DOMA’s legislative history clearly shows it to be an inappropriate and unconstitutional effort by Congress to express “moral disapproval of homosexuality.”

Buchanan describes the plaintiffs as "a retiree of the federal Social Security Administration who was denied health insurance for his spouse; three widowers who were denied death benefits for funeral expenses; and couples who have paid more in federal taxes because they are not allowed to file joint returns, according to the Associated Press."

No comments:

Post a Comment