Massachusetts to USA: Get Out of the Marriage Business, Yo


So Massachusetts’ Attorney General Martha Coakley is suing something called the United States of America over the Defense of Marriage Act, specifically challenging the definition of marriage as that one man-one woman business. DOMA “constitutes an overreaching and discriminatory federal law” according to the lawsuit, filed today in federal court in Boston.

When Congress and President Clinton enacted DOMA, it was a reaction to same-sex marriage possibly coming to Hawaii — legislators and the president wanted to keep other states from being forced to recognize Hawaii’s gay unions. What DOMA also did, as we know, was give the federal government an excuse to ignore state recognition of same-sex marriage at the national level, killing federal benefits like health insurance, Social Security, and federal income tax credits. This lawsuit specifically attacks that clause, saying the federal government overreached in taking power away from the states, which had the final say in marriage recognition until DOMA.

The AG’s lawsuit is actually the second federal challenge to DOMA to come out of Massachusetts (where gay marriage has been legal since 2004). The first came from Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), which today “applaud[ed]” Coakley’s filing.

For you legal eagles, we’ve got the full complaint on Page 2.