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Lawsuit Challenges U.S. Marriage Law

Gay and lesbian residents of Massachusetts will file a lawsuit today in federal court in Boston seeking to strike down the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. Six same-sex couples and three men whose husbands have died, all of whom were legally married in Massachusetts, planned to file the suit, The Boston Globe reports. One of the three was the spouse of Gerry Studds, the former Democratic congressman from Massachusetts who died in 2006.

Mary L. Bonauto, the civil rights lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders who was lead counsel in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health -- the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case in 2003 that legalized same-sex marriage in the United States for the first time -- said the suit asks the court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act because it targets gays and lesbians for discrimination.

"This is a case that should go to the Supreme Court and in all likelihood will go to the Supreme Court," she said.

The Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton, says that no state need recognize a marriage in another state between persons of the same sex. That means that this case will be closely watched by advocates and opponents of gay marriage alike. A win by the plaintiffs, says the Globe, "would dismantle a federal statute that affects more than 1,000 marriage-related benefits, and it would be a huge victory on symbolic and practical levels for supporters of same-sex marriage."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on March 3, 2009 at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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