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Federal Court to Hear Arguments Tomorrow in DOMA Challenge

From GLAD comes the following press release this morning:


Federal Court to Hear Arguments Tomorrow in DOMA Challenge

Tomorrow in Boston, eight married same-sex couples and three widowers will go to Federal District Court to hear arguments in their challenge to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman for all purposes under federal law.

Represented by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the plaintiffs in Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, all married in Massachusetts, have each been harmed by DOMA treating them as unmarried.  Gill was filed on March 3, 2009, and has been called the case with the greatest potential for national impact by the National Law Journal.

“Every day DOMA is hurting couples and families – not just by denying them benefits and rights, but by denying that their marriages exist,” said Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director.

“Under our Constitution’s equal protection guarantees, there is no justification for this.”

Bonauto will be arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs before U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro.

Judge Tauro will hear GLAD’s motion for summary judgment as well as the federal government’s motion to dismiss.  The hearing will address the issue of whether DOMA Section 3 is constitutional six years after the first same-sex couples in the country started marrying in Massachusetts, the result of GLAD’s groundbreaking marriage case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.

As a result of DOMA, passed by Congress in 1996, plaintiffs in GLAD’s lawsuit have been denied survivor benefits on a deceased spouse’s pension; denied health insurance coverage for a spouse on a federal family plan; denied Social Security spousal, death, and widower benefits; and denied the ability to file federal income taxes jointly as married.

The Gill legal team is led by Bonauto and GLAD Legal Director Gary Buseck, and staff attorneys Nima Eshghi, Janson Wu, and Samuel Bickett.  Co-operating counsel on the case include Foley Hoag LLP (Boston), Sullivan & Worcester LLP (Boston), Jenner & Block LLP (Washington, DC) and Kator, Parks & Weiser, PLLC (Washington, DC).

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.

Information about the case, the plaintiffs, and the attorneys representing them can be found at

Hearing Details

Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management et al.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

10:30 a.m. EST

John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse

1 Courthouse Way, Suite 2300

Boston, Massachusetts

Editor’s note: Attorneys and plaintiffs will speak to the media outside the courthouse following the hearing.  

Rules for media in the federal courthouse can be found at

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Here is a video of Mary talking about this case- take a look:

So, to my friend and fellow Mainer, I wish to add: Good luck, Mary B!

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