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 Weekly reported.

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 all others.”

Clement argued that the law merely creates a uniform definition for marriage.

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