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August 19, 2010

Amended Judgment Entered in Gill DOMA Challenge

An amended judgment was entered August 18, 2010 in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, GLAD’s challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Simultaneously, a stay was issued pending any appeal by the government to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.  It supersedes a judgment entered by the federal district court on August 12, 2010.

The amended judgment spells out in more detail the terms of the decision issued by federal district court Judge Joseph L. Tauro on July 8, 2010, in which he concluded that DOMA section 3 is unconstitutional. It describes what the decision means for the various claims of each plaintiff, seven married same-sex couples and three widowers. 

The amended judgment was agreed to by both GLAD and the Department of Justice. In addition, GLAD did not oppose the government’s request for a stay pending appeal.

“We agreed to a stay for two reasons,” says GLAD Civil Rights Project Director Mary L. Bonauto.  “First and foremost, it is in our clients’ best interest.  They want the certainty of knowing that their Social Security payments, health insurance costs, or tax refunds are not potentially subject to repayment to the government.  Only a final victory ensures that.

“Second, we think the stay actually provides clarity for married couples around the country who are looking at their own situations and wondering whether the Gill decision allows them to apply for Social Security benefits, for example, or sponsor their spouse for citizenship. The answer, even without a stay in Gill, is: no, not yet.”

The Department of Justice now has 60 days to decide whether to appeal. “We are more than ready to deal with an appeal,” says Bonauto.  “We have confidence in the strength and justice of our case.”

For more information on the ruling and judgment, and answers to specific questions you may have, please see our FAQ.