The rapid fire developments in the area of same-sex rights continues, with word from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders group, which successfully argued for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, that it intends to file suit in Massachusetts seeking some federal benefits for spouses in a same-sex marriage. The plaintiffs in the suit would be eight couples and three widowers who were each married in Massachusetts once it was legalized in 2004 and subsequently denied provision of federal benefits granted to married couples upon application for same.
While the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage and, by correlation, granting to same-sex spouses certain federal benefits such as Social Security survivors’ payments, the group believes that the suit is warranted per its belief that the number of states permitting same-sex marriage will increase beyond Massachusetts and Connecticut. Specifically, the suit would target only a portion of DOMA, seeking equal protection for benefits including Social Security, federal income tax, federal employees and retirees, and the issuance of passports.
Such a suit would be the first in which plaintiffs were legally married in their state of residence and then were subsequently denied requested federal benefits.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The basis of the suit is the equal protection clause of the US Constitution. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case, however, it may be years before it is decided. Eric S. Solotoff