Lesbian Couple Challenges The Defense Of Marriage Act
Imagine being married to a State Police lieutenant who is killed in the line of duty — and then you learn that even though you are the widower of a fallen state employee, you’re not eligible for federal benefits that would be available to other widows.
Such could be the case for Kathy Bush, one half of a lesbian couple in Massachusetts. Bush and her partner, Mary Ritchie, married in 2004, when same-sex marriage was legalized by the state. At last, the couple didn’t have to worry about hiring lawyers to write contracts stipulating their parental rights and health care plans (something married, straight couples never have to do). But Ritchie and Bush still weren’t in the clear. The Federal Defense Of Marriage Act (or DOMA), instituted under President Clinton in 1996, forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Not only does this mean the couple each has to file their federal taxes under “single status,” but it wouldn’t protect Bush (and other gays like her) in the aforementioned circumstance. So Ritchie, Bush, and 17 others are suing the federal government to argue that The Man should recognize same-sex marriage, too.
According to National Public Radio, the lawyers from Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenses plan to argue that DOMA “violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution because it is discriminatory,” since the federal government recognizes some marriage licenses but not others. DOMA protects states (say, Oklahoma) from having to legally recognize a same-sex marriage that occurred in another state (say, Massachusetts), but this lawsuit will only argue that same-sex marriages should be recognized by the federal government.
President Obama actually supports repealing DOMA and lawyers for the government have called the act “discriminatory” in legal documents. But unfortunately, the federal government is in the position of having to defend DOMA in a Boston federal court.
Hmm, maybe they can just put some crappy lawyers on the case? I do hope Bush, Ritchie and the other plaintiffs are victorious in their lawsuit; the injustice they’re suffering just because they are gay is so blatant. Forty years from now, maybe we’ll all look back on the fight for civil rights for gays and think, “Oh, wow, do you remember when things were that way?” [National Public Radio]