(San Francisco, California, July 9, 2009)—Yesterday, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed suit against the federal government challenging the constitutionality of the anti-gay federal so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). The suit targets DOMA Section 3, the section that denies federal benefits to married same- sex couples, charging that Congress overstepped its authority in enacting the measure. The Commonwealth argues in the case that DOMA undermines states’ efforts to recognize marriages and represents the codification of an impermissible “animus towards gay and lesbian people.”

A statement from Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“The lawsuit filed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts challenging the federal DOMA is an important landmark in the struggle to end the long history of invidious government discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. We applaud the Massachusetts Attorney General for her leadership in standing up for the rights of same-sex couples and their families. This case recognizes that for far too long, same-sex couples who are legally married under state law have been denied the protections that are provided under federal law to other families in Massachusetts. The harms to these families in being denied more than 1,000 federal rights, protections, benefits, and obligations are tangible and extremely well-documented. There is no constitutional justification for discrimination against these families by their own national government. We applaud the actions of the state, and urge swift action to bring down DOMA.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.