Friday, June 01, 2012

1st Circuit Court of Appeals Rules DOMA Unconstitutional

The First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled yesterday in two cases, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management which decision incorporates a ruling on the companion case brought by the Massachusetts Attorney General, Massachusetts v. DHHS. In Gill, seven same-sex couples and three surviving spouses of same-sex marriages, all from Massachusetts, where such marriages are legal, brought suit because under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), they are denied many federal benefits available to heterosexual couples in the same state. These include Social Security survivor benefits and the ability to file tax returns jointly, for instance.

The Massachusetts v. DHHS case was brought by the Massachusetts Attorney General because the Commonwealth is being forced to discriminate against some of its citizens and treat them differently because of the federal DOMA. For instance, Medicare benefits are not available to same-sex spouses, but are available to heterosexual spouses. And a same-sex survivor spouse of a veteran may not be buried at a federal military cemetery in Massachusetts, while a heterosexual widow or widower may. And these differences are enforced even though, under Massachusetts law, the two individuals are viewed exactly the same.

The GLAD organization represented the plaintiffs in Gill, and provide many links to news stories around the nation, as well as a complete selection of the pleadings in that case and all the cases they have been involved with. Here is their page. The Boston Globe link that GLAD offers leads to a different article than the more in-depth one that appeared in the print Globe. Here is the print article from the Boston Globe, and a more recent article from the Globe, about Judge Michael Boudin, who wrote the opinion.

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