The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, designed to 'defend' marriage from those States that have legalized same sex marriage, is under renewed attacks in the courts. (The Obama administration has indicated that it does not believe the Act is constitutional, so it will not defend it's key provisions, but this doesn't mean that it will die an easy death...)
Mass. leads fight on right to marry
"Massachusetts will once again take center stage in the national debate over same-sex marriage as the state becomes the first to go before a United States appeals court to challenge a federal law that defines marriage as a union only of a man and a woman.
"The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston on Wednesday will hear two cases that challenge the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act: The first is a lawsuit brought by 17 local plaintiffs who say it deprives them of the federal benefits that other married couples receive.
"The second, brought by the state, alleges the Marriage Act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against gay couples when the state’s highest court has already declared their marriages constitutionally protected."
Noncitizens Sue Over U.S. Gay Marriage Ban
"Five legally married same-sex couples filed a lawsuit on Monday to challenge the 1996 law that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, arguing that its impact is particularly harsh on couples that include an American citizen and a foreigner.
"The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, was brought by Immigration Equality, a gay rights legal organization that focuses on immigration issues. Same-sex marriage advocates said it was likely to become the most prominent suit seeking to overturn the law, known as the Defense of Marriage Act, based on its effect on gay or lesbian immigrants who want to gain legal residence through marriage to American citizens.
"Under immigration law, a citizen can apply for a foreign spouse to obtain legal permanent residency, with a document known as a green card. Since unlike many other visas, there are no limits on the number of green cards available to spouses of citizens, those applications are among the fastest and most straightforward procedures in the immigration system.
"Under the marriage act, which is called DOMA, federal authorities do not recognize same-sex marriages, even from states that allow them. In recent years, as same-sex marriage became legal in several states, gay and lesbian couples have come forward to say they were facing a painful choice: either deportation for the immigrant or exile to life in a foreign country for the American.
"In February 2011, the Obama administration announced that it regarded the central provision of the marriage act as unconstitutionally discriminatory, and said officials would no longer defend it in the courts.
"On Wednesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston will hear arguments in the first marriage act case to advance to the appeals level. That case contends that the act is unconstitutional because it denies federal benefits to same-sex couples married in Massachusetts, the first state to make same-sex marriage legal."
"Justice Department officials have said that they will not defend the core provision of the marriage act in that hearing, but will dispute other claims in the case. A conservative legal group appointed by the House of Representatives will argue in favor of the act."