A lawsuit challenging the
constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) reached for
the first time a federal appeals court on Wednesday, gay weekly Metro
The legal group Gay & Lesbian
Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) argued Wednesday in Boston that the
Clinton-era law which bans federal agencies from recognizing the
legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples is discriminatory.
The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory
Group (BLAG) last year appealed two cases in which U.S. District
Judge Joseph Tauro declared that DOMA violates the constitutional
rights of married gay couples. House Speaker John Boehner instructed
BLAG to defend the law in court after President Barack Obama said the
Department of Justice (DOJ) would no longer do so. Boehner approved
a budget of up to $1.5 million and hired prominent lawyer Paul
Clement to represent the House.
A three-judge panel of the First
Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in Gill v. Office of
Personnel Management filed by GLAD and Commonwealth of
Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services filed
by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.
GLAD lawyer Mary Bonauto argued that
DOMA discriminates against gay couple by preventing them from
accessing federal spousal benefits.
“DOMA's precise point was to create
an across the board exclusion of same-sex couples in the U.S. Code.
The promise of equal protection is that likes are to be treated alike
– but DOMA treats married same-sex couples differently from all
other married persons, making gay people and our marriages unequal to
Clement argued that the law merely
creates a uniform definition for marriage.
in DOMA case include Dean Hara, widower of Rep. Gerry Studds.)