|03-02-2009, 09:36 AM||#796|
She's the One
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Orange County and all over the goddam place
Local Time: 01:23 AM
|03-03-2009, 09:41 AM||#797|
Blue Crack Addict
Join Date: Nov 2002
Local Time: 04:23 AM
Same-sex spouses challenge US curbs__________________
Call Marriage Act discriminatory
By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff | March 3, 2009
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.
The suit, which legal specialists described as the first serious challenge to the federal law signed by President Bill Clinton, contends that the statute has deprived the plaintiffs of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.
Those benefits include health insurance for spouses of federal employees, tax deductions for couples who jointly file federal income tax returns, and the ability to use a spouse's last name on a passport.
"It hurts," said Dean T. Hara, who was married to Studds from May 2004 until the retired congressman's death in October 2006, as he discussed the federal government's denial of a $255 lump-sum death payment and thousands of dollars in benefits as the surviving spouse of a retired federal employee. "But at the same time I realize that I, as a man, need to stand up for what I believe in. This is a nation of laws, and we're all supposed to have equal treatment under the law."
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.
But it would dismantle a federal statute that affects more than 1,000 marriage-related benefits, and it would be a huge victory on symbolic and practical levels for supporters of same-sex marriage, according to legal specialists.
"We've got this major federal statute that inflicts really substantial harm on very large numbers of gay people just for being gay people," said Andrew Koppelman, a Northwestern University law professor. "The federal government declares to these people that it regards their marriages as worthless and would not give those marriages the protection and recognition that it gives to all other marriages. It's quite significant if that is invalidated."
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.
Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute and a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, said the lawsuit represents the latest effort to export gay marriage to other parts of the country. He noted that Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, known by its acronym GLAD, has a "Six by Twelve" campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in all six New England states by 2012, and he said some gay-rights groups want a federal constitutional amendment to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
But the tide of public opinion is strongly against them, he said. Voters in 30 states have passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, Mineau said, including California, which in a November referendum overturned a state Supreme Court decision that had recently given gay couples the right to marry.
"There's no doubt that the desire of the citizens of America . . . is that marriage is to remain one man and one woman, and that's what the intent of DOMA is as well," he said, using the acronym for the federal law.
Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, when it appeared increasingly likely that some state would soon legalize same-sex marriage, either by legislation or a court interpretation of state or federal law.
Proponents of the statute feared that if one state legalized gay marriage, other states would be required to do so under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.
Same-sex weddings began in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004, and about 10,000 couples have married. Two years later, GLAD quietly began surveying couples to determine whether they wanted federal benefits and equal tax treatment currently provided only to married heterosexuals.
Among those who say they have been discriminated against are Nancy Gill and Marcelle Letourneau, a Bridgewater couple who have been together nearly 30 years and married four days after same-sex weddings began. They have two children.
Gill, 51, who has worked for the Postal Service since 1987, has repeatedly tried to put Letourneau on her health insurance plan, but her employer has rejected her applications, citing the Defense of Marriage Act.
Letourneau, 47, has health insurance through her employer, Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, but the couple estimates that it costs them $800 more a year than it would if she could be on Gill's plan.
"I feel like I am not being treated the same as my other married co-workers," Gill said. "I earn those same benefits as my co-workers, yet I'm not allowed to use them."
|03-03-2009, 01:09 PM||#798|
Blue Crack Addict
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: A far distance down.
Local Time: 01:23 AM
If that ^ case gets heard by the Supreme Court I am fairly certain it will lose.__________________
Most likely 6-3 or even 7-2. I am not saying that I want it to lose. I am saying that with the current court make up, that is how I see the vote going.
I also believe there will be a day, perhaps as soon as 15 -20 years that it will be viewed as unfair and bias as the "separate but equal' laws were upheld and later overturned by subsequent courts.
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