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July 31, 2012

GLAD Lawsuit Results in Another Federal Court Striking Down DOMA Section 3

Today, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional as a violation of equal protection guarantees. Her ruling comes with respect to claims brought by six married same-sex couples and one widower from the states of Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont who were denied federal tax, social security, pension and family medical leave protections only because they are (or were) married to someone of the same sex. Under the ruling, the plaintiffs’ marriages must be accorded the same federal protections and responsibilities as those of other married couples.

The ruling by Judge Vanessa L. Bryant, an appointee of President George W. Bush, stems from GLAD’s lawsuit Pedersen et al v. Office of Personnel Management et al, filed in November 2010 in the Federal District Court in Connecticut.

“Judge Bryant’s ruling is very clear: married people are married and should be treated as such by the federal government. There is no legitimate basis for DOMA’s broad disrespect of the marriages of same-sex couples” says Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director. “We are very pleased that the Court recognized that DOMA’s creation of second-class marriages harms our clients who simply seek the same opportunities to care and provide for each other and for their children that other families enjoy.”

“I’m thrilled that the court ruled that our marriage commitment should be respected by the federal government just as it is in our home state of Connecticut,” says Joanne Pedersen, who is a plaintiff with her spouse, Ann Meitzen. “I loved working for the Navy for many years, and now that I am retired I now just want to care for my wife and make sure we can enjoy some happy and healthy years together. DOMA has prevented us from doing that.”

Read the full press release.