Troop Members To Challenge Defense Of Marriage Act in Court

Gay and lesbian members serving in the armed forces are filing a lawsuit challenging a federal ban on same gender marriages as well as a federal code that defines a spouse as a person of the opposite sex.

The Washington Post reports that “Lawyers plan to sue in federal district court in Boston, the same court that ruled last year that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it interferes with a state’s right to define marriage. That decision is being appealed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.”

“The suit also challenges provisions of federal code regarding spouses that lawyers said bar gay couples from accessing benefits provided by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those benefits include military identification cards, access to bases, recreational programs, spousal support groups and burial rights at national cemeteries. ”

The suit, expected to be filed later today, comes one day after Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that his committee “will begin debate on legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage (DOMA) on November 3rd. 

According to the Post,”Dozens of legal challenges to DOMA are making their way through federal courts, but gay rights’ legal advocates have said they do not anticipate a Supreme Court decision on the issue until 2013.”

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