Scroll To Top

Mass. Couples Sue for
Federal Rights

Mass. Couples Sue for
Federal Rights


More than a dozen Massachusetts same-sex couples who were married in their state have filed suit against the federal government, arguing that DOMA is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

More than a dozen Massachusetts same-sex couples who were married in their state have filed suit against the federal government, arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

The suit was filed Tuesday in Boston by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the legal group that argued successfully in 2004 to grant marriage equality in Massachusetts, the Associated Press reports. Gill et al v. Office of Personnel Management et al. includes several agencies of the federal government, with the Department of Justice representing the government in court.

"It's time for the federal government to end its blatant double standard of providing rights and protections to all married couples except gay and lesbian married couples," GLAD's Mary L. Bonauto said in a statement on Monday. "Same-sex married couples have taken on the commitment of marriage, play by the rules, and pay into the system. But they are denied critical federal legal protections that form a safety net to support other married couples and their children."

The legislation in question is DOMA, signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, to prevent states and the federal government from acknowledging same-sex marriage in states that allow it. The new lawsuit is demanding only that the federal government, and not other states, recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples by allowing rights and benefits such as joint tax filing, sharing Social Security benefits, and more than 1,000 other federal rights that straight married couples have but gay and lesbian couples do not.

The plaintiffs in the case include Dean Hara, widower of former congressman Gerry Studds, the first openly gay person in the House of Representatives. Hara says he was denied any portion of Studds's $114,000 federal pension after Studds died in 2006.

"I am not being treated the same as any other surviving spouse of any other federal employee or public servant who has served this country for 27 years, when I have been legally married," Hara said in the article.

Another couple, Mary Ritchie and Kathleen Bush, say they have paid about $15,000 more in taxes than they would have if able to file jointly.

"It saddens us because we love our country," Ritchie said in the report. "We are taxpayers. We live just like anyone else in our community. We do everything just like every other family, like every other married couple, and we are treated like less than that."

The other plaintiffs have all been denied federal benefits, including a U.S. Postal Service worker who could not add her spouse as a health insurance beneficiary and a man who was denied a passport with his married name.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Michelle Garcia