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Religious Tolerance logo

Attempts to declare the Federal "Defense of
marriage act" (DOMA) unconstitutional via the courts


2009 to now: "Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel
Management et al
." and Massachusetts v.
Department of Health and Human Services

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In this web site:
"DOMA" means the Defense of Marriage Acts; "SSM" means same-sex marriage;
and "LGBT" means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender individuals and transsexuals.

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Overview of the two Massachusetts DOMA cases:

  • In 2009: The Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) -- a national gay-equality group -- initiated a lawsuit attempting to have the federal DOMA act declared unconstitutional. It was filed in Federal District Court in Boston MA and called: "Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management et al."

    A second and very similar case case was launched by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, called: Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services. Because of the similarity of the two cases, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro heard and ruled on both cases together.

Lawyer David Boies, who is very active in SSM cases, compared court challenges to the constitutionality of DOMA with the attempts by Democratic legislators to repeal DOMA directly. He called them:

"... two paths to the same point. ... The DOMA litigation has an additional advantage in the sense that historically marriage has always been a state issue. While I think they’re both the same issue, the DOMA [lawsuits approach is] ... in some sense even a stronger case because it has both the equal protection and due process [constitutional] arguments and the states’ rights arguments." 1

  • In 2010: District Court Judge Tauro ruled that the federal DOMA law is clearly unconstitutional. The case was appealed to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the lower court's ruling.

  • In 2012: The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • On 2012-DEC-07, the Justices of the Supreme Court decided to not accept the Gill appeal. Instead, they have accepted the very similar Windsor v. U.S. case. Amicus Curia briefs were accepted up until 2013-FEB-28. Oral arguments will be heard on 2013-MAR-27. The court's ruling is expected in late 2013-JUN.

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Topics covered in this section:

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Julie Bolcer, "Cuomo calls for end of DOMA,", 2011-OCT-28, at:

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Site navigation:

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > SSM > SSM menu > DOMA > via courts > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > SSM > SSM menu > DOMA > via courts > here

Copyright © 2009 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-MAR
Latest update: 2013-MAR-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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