Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gay Marriage vs. DOMA: Gerry Studds' legal spouse denied Congressional death benefits

Although former congressman Gerry Studds was legally married in Massachusetts to his companion, Dean Harra, in 2004, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevents Harra from collecting Congressional death benefits. Studds was the first openly gay member of Congress. He came out of the closet on the Hill after a relationship with a male page was revealed.

This is the first case of the federal DOMA barring a congressional spouse from collecting death benefits:

Gary Buseck, legal director for the group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, said Studds's case may offer "a moment of education for Congress."

"Now they have a death in the congressional family of one of their distinguished members whose spouse is being treated differently than any of their spouses," Buseck said.

quoted from the Washington Post article linked in the title of this post.

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