(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.