DOJ moves to dismiss Massachusetts AG challenge to Defense of Marriage Act

[JURIST] The Obama administration on Friday filed a motion to dismiss [text, PDF] a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF] challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive]. The suit was brought [JURIST report] in July by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley [official profile] and challenges the DOMA on constitutional grounds. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] argued that states that allow same-sex marriages [JURIST news archive] cannot force the federal government to provide benefits to those couples. The Obama administration still maintains that DOMA is discriminatory but says it must continue to defend standing federal statutes:


This Administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal. Consistent with the rule of law, however, the Department of Justice has long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the Department disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here.

The lawsuit challenges DOMA by arguing it violates the Tenth Amendment [text] by intruding on state sovereignty to define and regulate marriages of its residents.

In September, the DOJ filed a motion to dismiss [JURIST report] a similar lawsuit brought by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) [advocacy website] on behalf of a group of plaintiffs who are or have been married under the state's same-sex marriage law. Also in September, 90 members of Congress introduced [JURIST report] a bill [HR 3567 text] to repeal DOMA, which was signed by former president Bill Clinton in 1996. In August, a judge for the US District Court for the Central District Court of California dismissed [JURIST report] a lawsuit [case materials] challenging the DOMA on judisdictional grounds. DOMA refuses federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples, including social security, tax laws, and immigration rights, and defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

 

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