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07/08/2009

MA AG wants DOMA to RIP

by Jeremy Hooper

200907081546-1Move over, Ms. Stewart. Gay America just got another tough, Northeastern Martha to get behind:

BOSTON – Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit in United States District Court (D. Mass.) challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). The law, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, unfairly excludes more than 16,000 Massachusetts married same-sex couples and their families from critically important rights and protections based on marital status. The complaint alleges that DOMA, which affects more than 1,100 federal statutory provisions, violates the United States Constitution by interfering with the Commonwealth’s sovereign authority to define and regulate the marital status of its residents. The complaint also alleges that DOMA exceeds Congress’s authority under the Spending Clause because Congress does not have a valid reason for requiring Massachusetts to treat married same-sex couples differently from all other married couples.

“Today, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts takes an important step toward ensuring equality and fairness for its citizens and maintaining our authority as a sovereign state,” said Attorney General Coakley. “DOMA affects residents of Massachusetts in very real and very negative ways by depriving access to important economic safety nets and other protections that couples count on when they marry and that help them to take care of one another and their families. DOMA also directly and fundamentally interferes with Massachusetts’s right as a state sovereign to determine the marital status of its residents.”

The Commonwealth’s complaint alleges that Section 3 of DOMA unlawfully creates separate and unequal categories of married individuals in Massachusetts, due to the fact that only different-sex married couples are considered married under federal law. Among other things, DOMA prohibits married individuals in same-sex relationships from taking advantage of the ability to file a joint federal tax return, Social Security survivor benefits, guaranteed leave from work to care for sick spouses, flexible spending accounts for medical expenses of spouses, and gift tax and estate tax exemptions for spouses. These rights and protections affect all facets of life from the workplace to healthcare to retirement, and every married person is affected significantly by these laws.

The Attorney General’s Office further contends that Section 3 of DOMA unlawfully requires Massachusetts to disregard valid marriages in its implementation of federally funded programs. The complaint focuses specifically on two programs, MassHealth and veterans’ cemeteries.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley Files Constitutional Challenge to Federal Defense of Marriage Act [Mass AG]

But don't worry, Ms. Stewart: We'll still call on you to make the canapés for our eventual, "Yay, The Federal Govt. Finally Considers Me A Worthy Citizen" party. Unless, of course, AG Coakley can make both equality and a sun dried tomato & goat cheese flatbread happen, in which case...

***

**READ the 32 page complaint:


2009 07 08 Doma Complaint

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Your thoughts

I am not a lawyer; I am certainly not an American lawyer. I'd be fascinated to see a response to this. It seems, as far as I can tell, to be a cut-and-dried case.

TRiG.

Posted by: Timothy (TRiG) | Jul 9, 2009 9:38:50 AM

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