Federal Cases

Several court cases are currently challenging the exclusion of same-sex couples from federal rights and protections of marriage, and a federal judge already ruled in favor of overturning DOMA, but the decision is pending a possible appeal:

  • Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management was decided on July 8, 2010, by Judge Joseph L. Tauro of the Federal District Court of Massachusetts. The court found Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional based on equal protection rights of married couples. The case was filed on March 3, 2009 by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) on behalf of eight married same-sex couples and three widowers in Massachusetts, who have been harmed by federal marriage discrimination enacted by DOMA. The case is now pending while the Obama administration decides whether to appeal the ruling.
  • Commonwealth v. United States Department of Health and Human Services was decided simultaneously with the Gill case in the Federal District Court of Massachusetts. Filed on July 8, 2009 by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, challenging the constitutionality of DOMA on the grounds that DOMA undermines states' rights to regulate marriage and provide full protections and equality to committed same-sex  couples. The court ruled in favor of the state of Massachusetts and struck down Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional.
  • Perry v. Schwarzenegger was decided on August 4, 2010 by District Court Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker.  The ruling found that the amendment to the California Constitution barring marriage for same-sex couples, adopted in November 2008 as Proposition 8, violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. On August 12, 2010, Judge Walker lifted a temporary stay on his ruling, allowing marriages for same-sex couples to resume effective August 18, 2010. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on May 22, 2009 by two same-sex couples.

Click here for blog posts, resources, and more federal marriage information.