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Thread: Mass. is 1st state to sue feds over marriage law

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    Mass. is 1st state to sue feds over marriage law

    AP-Wed Jul 8, 4:54 pm ET

    Mass. is 1st state to sue feds over marriage law - Yahoo! News

    Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, sued the U.S. government Wednesday over a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

    The federal Defense of Marriage Act interferes with the right of Massachusetts to define and regulate marriage as it sees fit, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said. The 1996 law denies federal recognition of gay marriage and gives states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

    Massachusetts is the first state to challenge the federal law. Its lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boston, argues the act "constitutes an overreaching and discriminatory federal law." It says the approximately 16,000 same-sex couples who have married in Massachusetts since the state began performing gay marriages in 2004 are being unfairly denied federal benefits given to heterosexual couples.
    Will be very interesting to see how this goes. Any precedent from this is going to have major repercussions.

    Any of our legal types know much about this?

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    Re: Mass. is 1st state to sue feds over marriage law

    They could really give it to the feds by changing their license plates to say "The Gay State".
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    Re: Mass. is 1st state to sue feds over marriage law

    Quote Originally Posted by Redress View Post
    AP-Wed Jul 8, 4:54 pm ET

    Mass. is 1st state to sue feds over marriage law - Yahoo! News



    Will be very interesting to see how this goes. Any precedent from this is going to have major repercussions.

    Any of our legal types know much about this?
    Hard to tell the substance from Yahoo!'s summary of the lawsuit, but the argument that DOMA requires Massachusetts to violate its own constitution is absurd. DOMA does not prevent Massachusetts from recognizing same sex marriage and extending state benefits accordingly. DOMA does relieve the federal government from the burden of extending federal benefits to same sex couples. DOMA does explicitly define marriage within federal law to be a union of a man and a woman.

    Also, even if DOMA does intrude into areas covered by the Massachusetts constitution, where federal and state laws conflict, federal law prevails. Article VI of the Constitution makes this clear:

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
    That marriage is a civic institution subject to State police power is settled law--even Loving endorsed that principle. So long as marriage is given to government to regulate, and so long as benefits extended by the federal government involve marital status and the legal consequences of marriage, the federal government has a valid interest in regulating marriage at the federal level. The federal government is not bound to hew to the particulars of a specific state constitution; it merely needs to hew the particulars of the US Constitution. Thus far, the federal judiciary has ruled that DOMA passes constitutional muster (In re Kandu, 315 B.R. 123, 138 (Bankr. D. Wash. 2004) and Wilson v Ake 18 FLW Fed D 175 (2005))

    Ironically, this lawsuit illustrates the underlying logic of states' rights. The only things that give the federal government an interest in regulating marital status are things like the income tax, social security, medicare, and other attributes of the federal welfare state. If those functions were either eliminated or devolved to the several states, the underlying logic for DOMA would cease to be. If Massachusetts desires inviolability of its constitution in these areas, a spirited advocacy of the 10th Amendment is surely in order.

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