Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against the federal government yesterday, challenging the legality of the Defense of Marriage ACT (DOMA). Passed in 1996, DOMA defines marriage as between one man and one woman and denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages. The lawsuit, filed by state Attorney General Martha Coakley, claims that the law forces the state to discriminate against its approximately 16,000 same-sex married couples.
“In enacting DOMA, Congress overstepped its authority, undermined states; efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards gay and lesbian people,” the state claims in the suit, according to CNN. DOMA denies same-sex couples federal benefits that include health insurance coverage and Social Security payments. According to the suit, the law also forces Massachusetts to treat same-sex and opposite-sex married couples differently in determining Medicaid benefits and whether spouses of veterans can be buried in a veterans’ cemetery, reported USA Today.
Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, is also the first to challenge the constitutionality of DOMA. Another lawsuit challenging the law was filed in Massachusetts in March by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAAD). Currently, same sex marriage is also legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.