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Thread: Barack Obama admin: dismiss gay couple benefits lawsuit

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    Bronze Member MissFit's Avatar
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    Default Barack Obama admin: dismiss gay couple benefits lawsuit

    Obama admin: dismiss gay couple benefits lawsuit | U.S. | Reuters

    Obama admin: dismiss gay couple benefits lawsuit
    Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:59pm EDT
    By Jeremy Pelofsky

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Friday urged a U.S. court to dismiss a lawsuit by gay married couples from Massachusetts who say they were unlawfully denied federal marriage benefits.

    President Barack Obama won strong support from gays during his presidential campaign and has pressed for repealing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

    But the gay community has been angered by the Obama administration's defense of the law in court proceedings. Justice Department officials say they are obligated to defend federal statutes when they are challenged.

    "In making this filing, the department is bound by the only precedent that exists, which is that no court has found such a right to federal benefits based upon marital status to be constitutionally required," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler.

    The filing in the U.S. Court for the District of Massachusetts "points out the administration's position that Congress should extend federal benefits to spouses in same-sex marriages," she said.

    Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriages but those couples cannot access federal protections and programs granted to heterosexual married couples, prompting legal challenges.

    The lawsuit, filed on behalf of seven same-sex couples and three survivors of same-sex spouses, says it is unconstitutional to bar them from enrolling in federal healthcare programs, receiving certain retirement and survivor benefits and filing joint income tax returns.

    "No court has found such a right to federal benefits to be fundamental -- and the federal courts that have considered the question in the context of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) itself have rejected such a claim," the Justice Department said in the filing.

    The department urged that the lawsuits be dismissed because their claims either were without merit or the individuals did not have a legal right to sue.

    Obama in June extended a few benefits, including opening the government's long-term care insurance to gay partners of federal employees and allowing federal employees to use their sick leave to tend to a gay partner or the partner's children.

    Massachusetts in July sued the U.S. government to seek federal benefits for about 16,000 same-sex couples who have been married in the state.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Fuck you, shitbag.
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    Elite Member cupcake's Avatar
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    I think his true colors are showing. He sat in a church for 20 years where I am pretty sure Rev Right preached against homosexuality a time or two. Maybe he is trying to appeal to the right in this
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    Elite Member Cali's Avatar
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    Guys, as much as this sucks, and it does, really badly, this is how our legal system works. The issue here is checks and balances, following the protocols of the legal system, and not extending benefits retroactively. However, it sounds like they plan to take it to the Supreme Court, in which case he could well win. The closest case I know of offhand is Lily Ledbetter's, and the main reason she lost at the Supreme Court was because her discriminatory pay occurred outside of the charging period. Because this case is unfolding right now, they could well win.

    Anyway, here's another article:

    US lawyers defend letter of gay marriage ban
    By Jonathan Saltzman and Martin Finucane Globe Staff / September 19, 2009

    Justice Department lawyers are reluctantly defending a law that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, making their legal arguments in a Boston court while pointing out that the Obama administration opposes the measure.

    Government attorneys said in a brief filed yesterday in US District Court that the administration believes the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, is discriminatory and wants it repealed.

    “Consistent with the rule of law, however, the Department of Justice has long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the department disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here,’’ the attorneys said.

    The law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Six same-sex couples and three men whose husbands have died - one of the deceased was retired Massachusetts congressman Gerry E. Studds - have filed a lawsuit, asserting that the law treats them like second-class citizens and is unconstitutional.

    Because of the law, the plaintiffs said, they were excluded from using federal benefits that opposite-sex couples can obtain, including health insurance programs for federal employees, retirement and survivor benefits under the Social Security Act, and the ability to file joint federal income tax returns.

    Janson Wu - a lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which is representing the plaintiffs - said the legal team was prepared for the government’s motion to dismiss, which closely resembled the Obama administration’s response to a similar lawsuit filed by a southern California gay couple. A federal court dismissed that suit on Aug. 24.

    “There’s nothing in the brief that we were unprepared to deal with, and there’s nothing in the government’s brief that addresses the fact the DOMA is the only exception in a long history of the federal government’s deferral to the states’ determination of who is married,’’ he said.

    Martin Koski, a 67-year-old retired federal employee who became a plaintiff after the government refused to extend federal health benefits to his husband, James Fitzgerald, said he should be treated no differently from other federal retirees.

    “We’re married in the state of Massachusetts, and the federal government, as far as we’re concerned, has chosen to disregard that and say we’re second-class citizens,’’ said the Bourne man, who married Fitzgerald two years ago.

    Koski said that he had voted for Obama in the election, but that he was not upset with him.

    “Congress makes the law, and until Congress decides to do something about it, I guess there’s not much the executive branch can do,’’ he said. “If someone feels it’s not right, we have to go through the process, and, hopefully, it will get to the Supreme Court and they’ll make a just decision for us.’’

    Legal specialists have said the suit filed in March was the first serious challenge by a group of plaintiffs to the federal law passed in 1996.

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the first in the nation to legalize gay marriage, filed a separate challenge to the law in July.

    The lawyers who submitted the Boston brief yesterday included US Assistant Attorney General Tony West and Michael Loucks, the acting US attorney in Boston.

    The government argued the court should not act as a “superlegislature,’’ judging the wisdom of a law, but must uphold the DOMA “so long as there is any reasonably conceivable set of facts that could provide a rational basis for it.’’

    Congress was entitled to address social reforms on a piecemeal basis and provide benefits only to those who have historically been allowed to marry, the government argued.
    US lawyers defend letter of gay marriage ban - The Boston Globe

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    facts, such as comparing gays to incestuous pedophiles?

    They didn't have to defend it, numerous constitutional lawyers have weighed in on that.

    This administration seems to pick and choose what it will defend, like every other admin before it.. it's CHOOSING to defend this when it is under no obligation. It can just turn around and say "no, it isn't constitutional and we aren't defending it" because there is no rational argument for why it would be.

    They WANT to defend it.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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