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Federal Marriage Lawsuit Continues


Gay married couples suing the government over the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition to same-sex unions, said Tuesday there is "no legitimate or plausible" reason for having a federal definition of marriage that excludes gay couples.

The lawsuit was brought by seven gay couples and three widowers, all of whom were married in Massachusetts after it became the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage in 2004.

In court documents filed Tuesday, the group claims DOMA violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause since it denies them access to federal benefits such as pensions, health insurance, and the ability to file joint tax based on their sexuality.

The U.S. Department of Justice wants the case dismissed.

In a court filing in September, Justice Department officials acknowledged that the Obama administration thinks DOMA is discriminatory and should be repealed, but said the department has an obligation to defend federal laws when they are challenged in court.

The Justice Department also argued that there is no fundamental right to marriage-based federal benefits.

"DOMA marks a stark, and unique, departure from the respect and recognition the federal government has long afforded to State marital status determinations," lawyers for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders argued in a written response to the Department of Justice's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, reports the Associated Press.

It would take a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court or an act of Congress to strike down DOMA.

A bill to repeal the law was introduced in the U.S. House in September by representatives Jerrold Nadler, Tammy Baldwin, and Jared Polis, but it has little chance of making it to a vote this year.

To read more about the case, click here.

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Christopher Mangum