Freedom to Marry Press Release: Hearings begin in historic trial to erode DOMA

"Massachusetts Once Again Leads the Way in Ending Marriage Discrimination"

For Immediate Release:  
May 6, 2010, New York, NY

PRESS CONTACT:
Sean Eldridge
Director of Communications, Freedom to Marry
sean@freedomtomarry.org

New York, NY--Today in Boston, eight married same-sex couples and three widowers, represented by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), will appear in Federal District Court to challenge Section 3 of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" that imposes federal marriage discrimination on same-sex couples.  In 1996, DOMA ended the 200-plus year tradition that marriages valid in any state are respected by the federal government.  The "gay exception" to federal marriage recognition enacted by DOMA deprives married same-sex couples of more than a thousand federal incidents of marriage affecting nearly every area of life.

Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, stated that "GLAD's historic challenge to DOMA marks an important step on the road to ending federal marriage discrimination and securing the freedom to marry nationwide.  DOMA creates two classes of marriage - those the federal government respects and some it doesn't - denying married same-sex couples and their families equal treatment and depriving them of the safety-net that marriage brings.  Because of federal marriage discrimination, same-sex couples cannot share Social security benefits with a spouse, sponsor a partner for a green card or citizenship, or pool resources without being unfairly taxed.  In the United States, we don't have second-class citizens, and we shouldn't have second-class marriages either."

Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD's Civil Rights Project Director, who will be arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs, remarked that "Every day DOMA is hurting couples and families - not just by denying them benefits and rights, but by denying that their marriages exist.  Under our Constitution's equal protection guarantees, there is no justification for this."

For details about the case, Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, visit: http://www.glad.org/doma

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Freedom to Marry is the leading campaign working to win marriage nationwide.  We partner with organizations and supporters across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from the responsibilities, protections, and commitment of marriage.