DOMA facing new legal challenges from GLAD and ACLU

Two lawsuits will be filed against DOMA today from two of the best organizations fighting for basic civil rights: The ACLU and GLAD. Given the lack of promised action from the Obama administration and Congress, the courts are probably our best route to equality for the time being. And, these new cases give the Obama administration’s Department of Justice two more opportunities to defend DOMA:

Ms. Pedersen and Ms. Meitzen plan to file a lawsuit Tuesday against the government in an effort to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples.

They are plaintiffs in one of two lawsuits being filed by the legal group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a gay rights legal organization based in Boston, and by the American Civil Liberties Union.

A similar challenge by the gay rights legal group resulted in a ruling in July from a federal judge in Boston that the act is unconstitutional. The Obama administration is appealing that decision.

The two new lawsuits, which involve plaintiffs from New York, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire, expand the attack geographically and also encompass more of the 1,138 federal laws and regulations that the Defense of Marriage Act potentially affects — including the insurance costs amounting to several hundred dollars a month in the case of Ms. Pedersen and Ms. Meitzen, and a 0,0000 estate tax payment in the A.C.L.U. case.

Both cases will be announced via separate press conferences today at 11 AM ET.


—  admin

GLAD To Launch Second DOMA Suit

Tomorrow the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) will launch a DOMA lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of a Connecticut lesbian couple. Earlier this year, GLAD won a similar suit in Massachusetts in a ruling that the Obama administration is appealing. The New York Times reports:

Joanne Pedersen tried to add her spouse to her federal health insurance on Monday. She was rejected. Again. The problem is that while Ms. Pedersen is legally married to Ann Meitzen under Connecticut law, federal law does not recognize same-sex unions. So a health insurance matter that is all but automatic for most married people is not allowed for them under federal law. Ms. Pedersen and Ms. Meitzen plan to file a lawsuit Tuesday against the government in an effort to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples.

GLAD will be issuing a press release on the new lawsuit tomorrow.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Tennessee DMV refuses to give woman a driver’s license with new last name after her legal same-sex marriage in D.C.

The full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution says that each state has to respect the “public acts, records and judicial proceedings” of the other states in this country. Traditionally, that has been understood to include legally contracted marriages. But, of course, Congress in 1996 passed the Defense of Marriage Act — or DOMA — which says the federal government will not recognize legal same-sex marriages and which allows individual states to refuse to  recognize legal same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

So, we get situations like this, documented by in in Washington, D.C.:

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) has challenged that portion of DOMA that prohibits federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages, and a decision is pending in a Massachusetts court in that case. And of course, a decision is also pending in a California federal court in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the California constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

There are other arguments for giving federal recognition to same-sex marriages and for requiring all states to recognize a legally contracted same-sex marriage from any state. Some arguments are based on the Constitution’s equal protection clause; some involve separation of church and state. And of course, there’s the basic idea of fairness — you know, that whole “liberty and justice for all” thing?

Who knows how it’s all going to wind up. But I am pretty sure it is going to take a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to settle it one way or another. And even that might not be the final word. One thing I do know, until it is settled, we’re going to keep hearing stories like Traci Turpin’s. And that is not fair.

—  admin

UNT student group GLAD looking to build LGBT family panel for Mar. 3 meeting

UNT student Jake Richert contacted me for a little help with his student group. The Gay and Lesbian Association of Denton is in search of finding LGBT families to come and talk to their group at their Mar. 3 meeting at 7 p.m. They are hoping to have a panel put together by Feb. 28 but wanted to get the word out ASAP. Here is Richert’s message.

glad: The North Texas Queer Alliance at UNT in Denton, TX is looking for panelists for our Wednesday, March 3, 2010 meeting on campus at 7PM. The panel topic is about the joys, struggles, and overall experience of being an LGBT family in America and in Texas today.

For our panel, we’re looking for representation from everyone in the LGBT community – specifically LGBT parents – with diverse structure, background, and experience. Those who started out LGBT and those with LGBT parents as a new facet are both welcome. Children (young adult age +, please) are also welcome to come and share. We want to hear about adoption, parenting, legal struggles, schools, coming out to children, church life, family support, constructs of motherhood/fatherhood, etc. – how ever many avenues we can explore, the better.

Also, we do not necessarily need the entire family. One parent can come speak on behalf of their entire family, for example.

For more information on glad, visit our blog here.

Peace, love, & rainbows.


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—  Rich Lopez