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

Massachusetts takes aim at federal definition of marriage

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/08/art.masssame0708.gi.jpg caption="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. Dennis

    Has anyone ever heard Obama say he supports gay marriage? I didn't think so. Another reason for the liberals tohate him.

    July 8, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. marcus

    it's embarassing to live in country that claims to be the beacon of light in the world, and it still tries to legislate discrimination.. this is the same country that claimed its founding fathers were such geniuses, while those founding fathers denied fundamentally all rights to women, and people of ANY color, while actually allowing the ownership of some humans.. what a corrupt country.. destined to fail like all the previous world empires because its foundation was discrimination.. congratulations on having learned nothing from history..

    July 8, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  3. Nick - Arlington, VA

    This can set a bad precedent for the day when same-sex marriage gets to the SCOTUS. They might use it as precedent to NOT hold same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional, because it is a state matter.

    July 8, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  4. atfayaddyday

    i thought we as humans were the ones with the intelligence. it seems to me the so called dumb animals have us beat, the animals don't do the vile things we humans do.

    July 8, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  5. atfayaddyday

    some people are really crazy!

    July 8, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  6. Dan, NY

    This is a joke. Immoral people.

    July 8, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  7. New Yorker

    Those of you who think you know what Christianity is all about need to realize that Christ and the Father (along with the Holy Spirit) are One, and the written word of God (Bible) makes it very clear that homosexuality is a sin and God does not approve of it. Believe what you will, but truth is truth still. Get a concordance and look up the word "homosexuals", in context, in the Bible. Let God's word speak to you directly, by itself, if you dare.

    July 8, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  8. Steve (the real one)

    @Real Change,

    You do realize the law applied to the Jews or Hebrews as there we known then and the not gentiles right? I'm not Jewish, are you? You do realize the law came about during the days of Moses and not Adam and Eve who lived a few hundred years earlier, right? You do realize your post on the law had nothing to do with mine, which had nothing to do with the law, right?

    July 8, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  9. Mark

    You dont see 2 male grasshoppers trying to mate, you dont see 2 female dolphines trying to mate. If you do see a male of a species trying to mate with another male of that species, its a domination issue not a procreation one. Being gay is a genetic abnormality, nothing more and nothing less. No different then being born with MS, Asthma or Spina Bifida.

    July 8, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. Steve (the real one)

    Fnord-a-saurus Rex July 8th, 2009 5:49 pm ET

    Did God know homosexuals would appear? Yes! is homosexuality His perfect will? No!. How do I know? Re-read my first blog on the first marriage!

    July 8, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  11. videodrome

    Those of you trying to use the Bible to justify your prejudice can save it. It was people like you that also believed that it was immoral for folks to marry someone of a different race. You want to bring that tired argument back into the limelight?
    And the animal lovers need to worry about being able to feed their pets during this recession, not worry about someone wanting to elope with Fido. Another tired argument, and pretty perverted as well.
    But yet you pet lovers have the gall to complain about gays.
    This is about LEGAL RIGHTS!

    July 8, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
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