DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is the law signed by President Clinton that allows the federal government and individual states to not recognize same-sex marriage performed in states that allow it. DOMA is the reason that married same-sex couples in Massachusetts and Connecticut can't file joint federal tax returns. DOMA is the reason that if you fall in love with someone from overseas, that person won't get a green card if you marry in Massachusetts or Connecticut. DOMA is the reason that most out-of-state couples who marry in Massachusetts find that marriage invalid when they return to their home state (with some exceptions: NY, NM, RI included).
DOMA is a terrible, discriminatory law - so this challenge by GLAD is a big deal. In 2004-2005, I spent a year and a half as a volunteer on the GLAD hotline. Every Friday afternoon from 1-4:30, I'd answer calls, letters and emails from people who felt discriminated against. It was a powerful experience and GLAD remains one of my favorite charities to support.
GLAD takes a very thoughtful approach to its challenges and as such, is challenging only the parts of DOMA that unfairly discriminate against residents of Massachusetts (not the parts that affect non-residents and could be dismissed on the basis of federalism). This is why the plaintiffs are, as examples: widowers not eligible for survivor benefits; bi-national couples not receiving the same immigration treatment; and couples paying thousands extra for health insurance because if one is a federal employee, the couple is not eligible for joint marriage coverage.
I'll be following this challenge closely! This is very exciting news indeed. By the way, if you want to support GLAD, they accept donations.
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