July 8th, 2009
05:26 PM ET
9 years ago

Massachusetts takes aim at federal definition of marriage

The first same-sex couple to marry in Massachusetts spoke with reporters in 2005 on the one year anniversary of the state legalizing same-sex marriages.

The first same-sex couple to marry in Massachusetts spoke with reporters in 2005 on the one year anniversary of the state legalizing same-sex marriages.

(CNN) – The Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act's ("DOMA's") definition of marriage as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."

Massachusetts, which legalized same-sex marriages in 2004, claims that the federal definition violates its authority under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution to define marriage as it sees fits.

"From its founding until DOMA was enacted in 1996, the federal government recognized that defining marital status was the exclusive prerogative of the states and an essential aspect of each state's sovereignty," the suit says.

The state also asserts that the federal definition of marriage negatively impacts its ability to administer a number of federal programs within its borders and unjustly denies it federal funding it should receive.

For example, in the suit, the state estimates that it loses out on $2.37 million in Medicare funding because of DOMA.

Third, Massachusetts claims that requiring it to comply with a federal definition of marriage limited to different-sex couples, the state is put to an unlawful choice between discriminating against people which its own laws treat equally and foregoing federal funding.

In a statement announcing the suit, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said it is unconstitutional "for the federal government to decide who is married and to create a system of first- and second-class marriages. The federal government cannot require states, such as Massachusetts, to further the discrimination through federal programs, either."

"The time has come for this injustice to end," said Coakley.

Massachusetts is the first state to sue challenging the federal government's definition of marriage.


Filed under: Massachusetts • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    Go get um Mass!!!

    July 8, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. bob in LA

    Good for them and him!

    July 8, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. Steve (the real one)

    Let's take a look at the very first marriage. There was a man (Adam) and ther ewas a woman (EVE). That leads me to believe that's how God intended it! Come on haters, show me what you got! You will STILL be wrong!

    July 8, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  4. Scott L

    Mt Rushmore defaced by liberal activists. Completely disrespectful. Obama certainly has not earned his face to be up there yet.

    Completely lose all respect for Greenpeace now. Complete disrespect for American history.

    July 8, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. Mikey

    It's about time.

    July 8, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. Bibek

    That's right.. we gotta lead the way.... Woot!

    July 8, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. roberta

    it's really not about marriage is it...really?....it's more about the dollars the poor mismanaged state of Massachusetts is missing out on.

    It makes sense though – this state continues to send Barney Frank to Washington where he's engaged in all sorts of misadventures like "reallocating" TARP money to fund projects he's never been able to get money for. I thought we were promised that we'd get paid back first.....?

    July 8, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  8. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    Rethuglicans say they want small government yet want to tell you who you can and cannot marry and what to do with your bodies. They say they are pro life yet support the death penalty, love hunting and war.

    July 8, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. Just Saying....

    It's about time....It's time for Obama to stand up and support this human right...

    July 8, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. BobH

    Funny how conservative groups are all for state rights– when it suits their purposes. But it's fine for the Federal Government to step in when it comes to moral questions.

    I would think that those are the very areas true conservatives would want the Federal government to avoid legislating.

    July 8, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  11. blue county / red state

    Steve (the real one):

    Are you saying that Adam and Eve were born in the United States?

    July 8, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. MJM

    Right there will you Steve (the real one)

    July 8, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. BobH

    To Steve: Marriage is a non-religious, legal contract. It's for non-Christians, who don't believe in the Garden of Eden, as well as Christians who do. So the argument about God has no relevance.

    July 8, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. Larry

    What does God have to do with it? We're talking about a legal definition!

    July 8, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. AlwaysThinking

    Steve (the real one): Every culture has a creation story; Adam and Eve are the Biblical version. It's a cultural and religious interpretation of events which no one can definitively describe. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Examples of other creation myths:

    – Odin and Ymir (Norse/Vikings)
    – Birth in the Dawn (Hawaiian)
    – The Moon and the Morning Star (Witchita/Native American)
    – Creation By and From the Self (Upanishad/India)

    One of my all-time personal favorites is Snot Boy and Copper Woman, a story from the Pacific Northwest.

    In it, the Creator is lonely and fashions a woman from a variety of natural materials (shells from the sea, ocean water, seaweed, moss, etc.). She is beautiful and industrious and learns how to hunt and fish and survive. However, she is very lonely, too, and cries and cries in her misery. The Supernatural beings tell her to collect all her snot, which she does in a shell.

    Long story short, it takes shape, she finishes creating it and voila! Man is created.

    July 8, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Kelby In Houston, TX

    The president should repeal/revoke/remove Don't ask Don't tell policy and do whatever else he can to give gays and lesbians equal rights. This should not even be an issue

    July 8, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. Jeff

    DOMA is illegal and a disgrace. Americans should be ashamed that the federal government enshrined discrimination into law. Repeal DOMA now!

    July 8, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  18. Fnord-a-saurus Rex

    @ steve: Lets assume, for the sake of argument, that everybody here believes in your definition of GOD. The all knowing, infallible Christian GOD. Wouldn't the appearence of homosexuals be because of his will and infinite knowledge? That leads me to believe that's how God intended it! Come on haters, show me what you got!
    I will still be right.

    July 8, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. Marc

    Any argument with God in the middle of it goes against the separation of State and Church. The LAWS must work the same way for Christians and non-Christians, since the CONSTITUTION makes no difference of treatment between each group, or say hello to Nazi America.

    July 8, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. Cowboy in West Texas

    If it is about money – tax dollars – send them the money just make sure everyone pays their taxes – I am convinced you can't argue what is right and wrong anymore – everyone for themselves. You believe what you believe and take the consequences.

    July 8, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. bozo the obama

    gays, lesbians already are free to get married. They just can't marry the same sex. But they want to marry the ONE they love, well i'm sure they love their bros. and sis. but they can't marry them and unless you live in Gay Francisco even though you love your dog you can't marry the dog.

    July 8, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  22. Jasmine in Germany

    Not granting people the right to a civil union is discimination. Sexually should not not play a role. How a House of Worship decides is up to them, but everyone should be entitled to civil rights.

    July 8, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  23. Me in Big D

    @Scott L – yeah, but I saw a truckload of coal going down the highway toward Mt. Rushmore. Guess they were getting ready to put him up there. He does NOT need to be there among the nation's great leaders!!! He will go down in history as being a POTUS worse than Bush AND Carter!

    July 8, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. Real Change

    Steve, If you are going to use old Testament law then use all of it buddy not just the parts you find useful for validating your bigotry.

    I better not catch you working on the sabath. I'll kill you. The old Testament tells me to. And as for the Sabath, it begins at sundown on Friday Steve. Been keeping those Kosher laws Steve? Been putting oil in your hair everyday Steve? Do you practice poligomy Steve? You know a rebelious Son should be stoned to death Steve.

    As for me, I believe that the resurection of Christ trumps Old Testament law. As for the leasons of the New Testament....
    John 8: 3-10

    July 8, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "That leads me to believe that's how God intended it! Come on haters, show me what you got! You will STILL be wrong!"

    You're entitled to that belief. You are not, however, entitled to force everyone to believe it or, failing that to at least live accordingly.

    July 8, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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