Trial date set for Defense of Marriage lawsuit

Surprising news (to me, anyway) last week: a lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been given a trial date. Several Massachusetts residents are going to have their day in court against the federal government.

Plaintiffs in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management argue that the Defense of Marriage Act’s prohibition against federal recognition of same-sex marriages — even if legally performed in a state that permits same-sex marriage — violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In particular, seven same-sex married couples and and three surviving spouses are challenging the government’s denial of federal benefits under section 3 of DOMA. That’s the section that denies Social Security survivors’ benefits, joint tax filing, and over 1,100 other federal protections that opposite-sex married couples are afforded today.

From the Human Rights Campaign website:

Plaintiffs are arguing that discrimination by the federal government against people who are validly married violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution. As a result of DOMA, plaintiffs have been denied survivor benefits on a deceased spouse’s pension, denied health insurance coverage for a spouse, denied Social Security death and widower benefits, and have been denied the ability to qualify for federal income tax benefits for married couples filing jointly. If the plaintiffs are successful, the federal government would be required to extend to same-sex married couples the same rights, protections, and responsibilities afforded to other married persons.

The trial starts May 6th. Stay tuned for what will probably be a lot of blogging from me as updates start coming out of the courtroom.

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