It was inevitable that once Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage and didn't call it civil unions that there would be a challenge to the Orwellian-named Defense of Marriage Act.
Fifteen gay and lesbian residents from Massachusetts who wed after this state legalized same-sex marriages plan to file a discrimination suit today, challenging a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.Obviously, there's no way to know why it has taken so long to file this complaint, though I wouldn't be surprised if there was at least a little consideration given to the possibility that a Justice department headed by a Democrat might not pursue this case with the same vigor as one headed by a Republican. We'll see how hard the Obama administration fights it.
Six same-sex couples and three men whose husbands have died - one of the deceased was retired congressman Gerry E. Studds - said in the suit that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act treats them like second-class citizens and is unconstitutional. The complaint is being filed in US District Court in Boston.
It'll also be interesting to see how this plays out once it gets to the Supreme Court, because that's where it will inevitably wind up. There aren't enough votes in Congress, even with the increased majorities in the Democratic ranks, to repeal DOMA, so that's not a solution. This will work its way through the courts and will probably be left up to Justice Anthony Kennedy to decide, just like Lawrence v Texas was. On the plus side, if Kennedy follows his prior reasoning, then DOMA is dead. On the down side, it's Kennedy--you don't like relying on him to decide the difference between medium-rare and medium-well.
Of course, this is going to take a while, so maybe there will be a justice or two who has to be replaced that will change the dynamic on the Court a bit. Anybody want to sign Scalia up for the "High Fat Sausage of the Month Club"?
One thing about this suit, even if it's successful--and you can bet that the anti-same-sex marriage people will be dishonest about this--it won't automatically make same-sex marriage legal everywhere in the US. That will take another series of court cases testing the interpretation of the "Full Faith and Credit" clause of the Constitution. But if this suit is successful, it'll go a long way toward making same-sex marriage a possibility everywhere in the US.