The Boston Globe reports:
Fifteen gay and lesbian residents from Massachusetts who wed after this state legalized same-sex marriages plan to file a discrimination suit today, challenging a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Six same-sex couples and three men whose husbands have died – one of the deceased was retired congressman Gerry E. Studds – said in the suit that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act treats them like second-class citizens and is unconstitutional. The complaint is being filed in US District Court in Boston.
Mary L. Bonauto, the civil rights lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders who was lead counsel in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health – the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case in 2003 that legalized same-sex marriage in the United States for the first time – said the suit asks the court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act because it targets gays and lesbians for discrimination.
“This is a case that should go to the Supreme Court and in all likelihood will go to the Supreme Court,” she said.
If the plaintiffs win, she said, it would not extend same-sex marriage beyond Massachusetts and Connecticut, the two states where it is legal.
A handful of federal agencies and officials are named as defendants in the suit. A spokesman for President Obama, who has spoken of repealing the Defense of Marriage Act but does not support same-sex marriage, said the White House had no comment.
DOMA currently provides that no state has to accept a same-sex marriage from another state. But if it were overturned that could change. In addition, overturning DOMA could affect the definition of marriage for purposes of federal law.