Human Rights Campaign Applauds Filing of Challenge to Discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act

by HRC Staff

Lawsuit, filed by Gay &amp Lesbian Advocates &amp Defenders, challenges unequal treatment of married Massachusetts couples.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization, lauded the introduction of a lawsuit filed in Boston Federal District Court today on behalf of eight married, Massachusetts same-sex couples and three surviving spouses who have been denied federal benefits under Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The plaintiffs, represented by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), have been denied federal protections that their neighbors, friends and co-workers enjoy, simply because they are gay and lesbian married couples or the surviving spouses of a same-sex marriage.

Two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, allow committed gay and lesbian couples to marry. Since 2004, over 10,000 gay and lesbian couples have married in Massachusetts. Gay and lesbian couples have been able to marry in Connecticut since November 2008. This lawsuit would affect marriages performed in both states by seeking to end discrimination by the federal government against people who are validly married and ensure they are not denied rights, protections and responsibilities afforded to other married persons.

"These legally married couples make the same commitments and take on the same responsibilities for themselves and their children as their fellow citizens," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "The federal government has no business treating them differently and denying them critical protections. We applaud GLAD for taking this first step to ensure that these married couples are treated equally under federal law."

Enacted in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage solely as the union of a man and a woman under federal law (Section 3), thereby denying lesbian and gay couples access to Social Security survivors' benefits, joint tax filing, and over 1000 other protections. DOMA also purports to allow states to refuse to recognize marriages between same-sex couples that are solemnized in other states (Section 2). GLAD's case, Gill et al v. Office of Personnel Management et al, challenges only Section 3 of DOMA.

The Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders have set-up a special website dealing with the lawsuit filed today in Boston federal court. To view the website, go to

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Contact Us

To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email