Same-Sex CT Couples May Benefit From DOMA Lawsuit
Married same-sex couples are ineligible for certain federal benefits
Same sex couples who are married in Connecticut could benefit from a lawsuit that challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act known as DOMA which says marriage is a union between a man and a woman. WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports.
Late last week, attorneys for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or GLADD, were in Federal District Court in Boston arguing that DOMA is unconstitutional because married same-sex couples are ineligible for certain federal benefits. Gary Busick is GLADD's legal director:
"This lawsuit does focus on Mass married same-sex couples, but now obviously there are same-sex married couples in Connecticut and in Vermont and in New Hampshire and Ohio and the District of Columbia, and all of those folks are married in the eyes of their state or in the District, and unmarried in the eyes of their federal government."
Busick says DOMA discriminated against these couples because they can't file their federal taxes jointly, and therefore, lose money each year. Also, they aren't entitled to the same pension, social security and federal employment benefits that heterosexual married couples are eligible to receive.
In court, the federal government's attorney told the judge that the Obama administration supports a repeal, but DOMA is considered constitutional because Congress approved the legislation and it was signed into law in 1996.
Busick stresses, GLADD is challenging just a portion of the Federal Marriage Act, and the suit does not seek a federal constitutional right to marry.
"It would not impose on any other state any obligation to either marry same sex couples or recognize the marriage of same-sex couples. That is their choice of those states."
The judge has up to one year to rule on GLADD's lawsuit. A decision could come this summer.
For WNPR, I'm Lucy Nalpathanchil.
GLAD is surveying married same-sex couples from Connecticut about their DOMA experience. The survey is at http://www.glad.org/doma/survey.