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BOSTON -- Eight married same-sex couples and three widowers will go to federal District Court on Thursday, May 6, to hear arguments in their challenge to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
DOMA defines marriage as only between a man and a woman for all purposes under federal law.
Represented by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the plaintiffs in Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, all married in Massachusetts, have each been harmed by DOMA treating them as unmarried.
Gill was filed on March 3, 2009, and has been called the case with the greatest potential for national impact by the National Law Journal.
"Every day DOMA is hurting couples and families - not just by denying them benefits and rights, but by denying that their marriages exist," said Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD's Civil Rights Project director.
"Under our Constitution's equal protection guarantees, there is no justification for this."
Bonauto will be arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs before U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro.
Tauro will hear GLAD's motion for summary judgment as well as the federal government's motion to dismiss. The hearing will address the issue of whether DOMA Section 3 is constitutional six years after the first same-sex couples in the country started marrying in Massachusetts, the result of GLAD's groundbreaking marriage case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.
As a result of DOMA, passed by Congress in 1996, plaintiffs in GLAD's lawsuit have been denied survivor benefits on a deceased spouse's pension; denied health insurance coverage for a spouse on a federal family plan; denied Social Security spousal, death, and widower benefits; and denied the ability to file federal income taxes jointly as married.