The Boston-based gay rights group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the gay rights advocacy group at the center of the gay marriage debate in New England, is representing seven gay married couples and three surviving spouses from Massachusetts who have been denied federal benefits because of the 1996 law that defines marriage as a heterosexual union for federal agencies.
GLAD lawyer Mary L. Bonauto called the law an unconstitutional intrusion on a matter previously left to states.
“All the federal government has ever cared about is that the person is married at the state level,” she argued before US District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro. “For the first time ever, DOMA departed from that.”
Bonauto asked Tauro to rule in the group's favor without a trial.
Lawyers representing the government said that while the Obama Administration supports repeal of the law, the Department of Defense has a responsibility to defend the laws enacted by Congress, and asked for the suit to be dismissed.
“This presidential administration disagrees with DOMA as a matter of policy,” W. Scott Simpson, a DOD lawyer argued. “But that does not affect its constitutionality.”