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.