In what is expected to be the last stop
before the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal appeals court will hear
arguments next week in two cases challenging the constitutionality of
the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), gay weekly the Washington
DOMA bars federal agencies from
recognizing the legal marriage of gay and lesbian couples.
A three-judge panel of the First
Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on Wednesday.
The one-hour hearing will address two
cases: Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Commonwealth
of Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services.
Both cases were ruled on in 2010 by U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro,
who decided in both instances that DOMA violates the constitutional
rights of married gay couples.
month, a federal district court in California ruled similarly.
Jason Wu, a staff attorney for GLAD,
which filed Gill on behalf of eight married couples and three
widowers – including Dean Hara, the husband of Rep. Gerry E. Studds
– in Massachusetts, said the California decision may play a role in
“It always helps when another court
affirms what we believe is right, which is that DOMA represents a
straight-forward equal protection violation and there is really no
good reason to treat gay married couples differently from straight
married couples,” Wu said.
The Republican-led House last year
ordered the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) to defend
DOMA after President Barack Obama instructed the Department of
Justice (DOJ) to no longer defend the law in court. BLAG attorney
Paul Clement will defend the law during the hearing.
sides criticize John Boehner over defense of gay marriage ban DOMA.)