Immigration Equality on behalf of five gay and lesbian couples files suit Monday in New York against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Clinton-era law that bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples.

The suit alleges that DOMA denies them the right to petition for permanent residence, as straight couples can.

“Solely because of DOMA and its unconstitutional discrimination against same-sex couples these Plaintiffs are being denied the immigration rights afforded to other similarly situated binational couples,” the suit states.

Were the plaintiffs not gay, “the federal government would recognize the foreign spouse as an 'immediate relative' of a United States citizen, thereby allowing the American spouse to petition for an immigrant visa for the foreign spouse, and place [him/her] on the path to lawful permanent residence and citizenship.”

The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), at the direction of House Speaker John Boehner, last year began defending the law in court after President Barack Obama directed the Department of Justice to no longer do so. BLAG has intervened in as many as 12 DOMA cases.

Plaintiffs in Blesch v. Holder include Edwin Blesch and Timothy Smulian, Frances Herbert and Takako Ueda, Santiago Ortiz and Pablo Garcia, and Heather Morgan and Maria del Mar Verdugo.

(Related: Plaintiffs in DOMA case include Dean Hara, windower of Rep. Gerry Studds.)