October 12, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Justice Dept. appeals court rulings against DOMA

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday filed notices of appeal in two separate cases where a Massachusetts federal court determined that part of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

The Obama administration appealed the cases of Commonwealth v. Department of Health & Human Services and Gill v. Office of Personnel Management to the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals.

“NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that all defendants hereby appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit from the Amended Judgment dated August 17, 2010 (Doc. 74) and from the underlying Order and Memorandum dated July 8, 2010 (Docs. 69, 70),” writes the Justice Department in its notice.

On July 8, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro determined in the cases that part of DOMA prohibiting the federal recognition of same-sex marriage violates the constitutional rights of plaintiffs. The Commonwealth case was filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and the Gill case was filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

Mary Bonauto, GLAD’s civil righs project director, said her organization was expecting an appeal in the case and is “more than ready to meet it head on.”

“DOMA brings harm to families like our plaintiffs every day, denying married couples and their children basic protections like health insurance, pensions and Social Security benefits,” she said. “We are confident in the strength of our case.”

In a statement, Coakley said she looks forward to presenting her litigation to the First Circuit as she called DOMA an “unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional law” that discriminates against married same-sex couples in Massachusetts.

“DOMA denies same-sex married couples from being treated equally under the law across a wide range of areas, from accessing basic health care, retirement and social security benefits to being buried with their loved ones in a veteran’s cemetery,” she said.

The next step in the lawsuit is for the Justice Department to file its brief to First Circuit arguing that Tauro was wrong in his rulings. Plaintiffs will then file briefs in opposition and the government will file another reply. Oral arguments will then be scheduled. According to GLAD, briefings could be complete by the spring of 2011 and oral arguments could follow by the Fall 2011.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

9 Comments
  • The Obama administration is going to appeal the DOMA ruling. I am increasingly disappointed by this group of spineless dolts. Are we to continue to rally around lip service?

    I will ignore any fundraising letters asking me for money or votes.

    Face it, Obama & Co, have been handing us glasses of p*ss & trying to convince us its lemonade.

    Having voted for the “smart” one has gotten us nowhere as a community or as a country. I now question whether the smart one is really as smart as advertised. Nearly two years in, and the country is measurably worse than when he arrived.

  • Just think of what McCain would be doing if he had won. McCain would have vetoed Matthew Shepard if it had even made it to his desk, would not have given us hospital visitation, expanded equality for federal workers, and would not have called for repeal of DADT and DOMA, or issued presidential proclamations supporting our equality which help establish the social norm of acceptance. Obama has been clear he wants repeal to come from congress. Also, a supreme court ruling striking down both laws would go a lot farther than a lower court ruling, but I personally would be happy with anything that would make these hateful laws go away. As I understand it, now the DOMA ruling would apply only to Mass, while a ruling by the Supremes could apply to the entire country. We know we are right. The only question is will the judges set aside their prejudice and agree.

  • So the Obama Administration can ignore appealing rulings against DADT but no rulings that favor gay marriage and ending DOMA?? That’s pretty inconsistent and looks like selective enforcement of laws that the President says he does not support!!!! Actions speak louder than rhetoric and gays aren’t stupid!

  • Well, there you have it, our “fearless leader” is at it again! What a wasted opportunity. We were so foolish to buy the Kool-Aid and to think that a Black president would identify with our issues. Such a waste and an enormous disappointment. There are some things that I like about him, but his spineless support of us, isn’t one of them. Remember that he selected Rev. Rick Warren to deliver his inaugural invocation and then dare lecture us on inclusiveness.

  • I can hardly wait to see how the Obamapologists spin this one.

  • Obama hasn’t done anything for the LGBT community and now his justice department continues to work against us with the appeals of the DOMA rulings. No doubt he will betray us again and once again defend the rotten DADT policy. Lets face it, the accomplishments the LGBT community has made comes from its own efforts in courts and in Progressive state legislatures, not through our “Fierce Advocate” Obama or the Dems in Congress i’m sorry to say. Of course the Republicans are always against us, but I’m getting tired of the Obama and the Democrats in Congress leaving us hanging. Tell them no money, no support and no votes until they deliver what they promissed, and I can tell you right now, continuing to defend DOMA and DADT isn’t my idea of support for the LGBT community!

  • Obviously marriage is misunderstood, misinterpreted, and is misrepresented. Judges need to clarify their legal position. The courts have failed to distiguish legally what is legitimate to marriage and what is illegitimate. They have missed the mark. Same sex marriage lacks the credibility that marriage between a man and a women carrieswith its thousands of years of case history starting with Adam and Eve.

    • You’re right. We should follow marriage exactly as described in Holy Scripture — the union of one man and as many wives, concubines, rape victims, and sex slaves as he can financially support, with no remarriage after two believers divorce. How dare anyone presume to change God’s holy and perfect law.

  • We need a Democrat to challenge Obama for the party’s nomination in 2012. He has sold us down the river too many times, we need to stop suffering from battered-wife syndrom and accepting his insulting punches.

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