What’s a Marriage? 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Arguments

by Beverly A. Pekala on April 9, 2012

The federal government does not recognize marriage between same-sex couples. DOMA, which is the Defense of Marriage Act, defines a legally recognized marriage as between a man and a woman.
However, lawyers representing same-sex couples legally married in Massachusetts argued in Boston last week that DOMA violates the equal protection guarantees of the US Constitution. DOMA also prevents the federal government from recognizing marriages performed in the six states that permit same-sex marriage.
Advantages of legally recognized marriages include filing joint tax returns, Social Security benefits and health insurance benefits.

Paul Clement, former US Solicitor General, argued in defense of DOMA that Congress had a rational basis for the law and that Congress has the power to define marriage and the benefits which result from that definition.

It is unknown when the Court will render a decision.

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