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March 3, 2009

GLAD Files Suit Challenging DOMA Section 3

GLAD has filed the first concerted, multi-plaintiff legal challenge to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management et al. targets the denial of certain federal rights and protections to married same-sex couples in Massachusetts.  This suit, filed today in federal District Court in Boston, addresses the use of DOMA Section 3 to deny spousal protections in Social Security, federal income tax, federal employees’ and retirees’ benefits, and in the issuance of passports. 

“It’s time for the federal government to end its blatant double standard of providing rights and protections to all married couples except gay and lesbian married couples,” says Civil Rights Project Director Mary L. Bonauto. “Same-sex married couples have taken on the commitment of marriage, play by the rules, and pay into the system.  But they are denied critical federal legal protections that form a safety net to support other married couples and their children.”

The plaintiffs are eight married couples and three widowers, each of whom is currently eligible for a federal program.

Passed in 1996, DOMA Section 3, now codified at 1 U.S.C. section 7, limits the marriages the federal government will respect to those between a man and a woman.  Section 2 of DOMA, not at issue in this lawsuit, allows states to establish public policies about what marriages they will and will not respect.

Read GLAD’s Press Release

More information, including bios of all plaintiffs and background on DOMA, is available at

News Coverage
New York TimesSuit Seeks to Force Government to Extend Benefits to Same-Sex Couples

Boston Globe: Same-sex spouses challenge US curbs

Associated PressMarried gays in Mass. sue US for federal benefits

Bay WindowsGLAD challenges federal DOMA
VideoNew England Cable News: Gay couples sue for federal marriage benefits

Hartford CourantGLAD Challenges Federal Marriage Act

WCVB/The Boston Channel: Married Mass. Gays Suing Feds For Benefits