University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name McLaughlin v. Panetta PB-MA-0010
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-11905-RGS ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Case Summary
Plaintiffs are service members in the U.S. Armed Forces, married to spouses of their same sex. They filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on October 27, 2011, challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and other exclusionary ... read more >
Plaintiffs are service members in the U.S. Armed Forces, married to spouses of their same sex. They filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on October 27, 2011, challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and other exclusionary provisions of the U.S. Code. The statutes in question preclude the military from providing the plaintiffs marital benefits and family support that are offered to heterosexual couples. The plaintiffs, represented by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, allege that DOMA: (1) violates their Equal Protection rights, (2) violates the 10th Amendment and constitutional principles of federalism, (3) places an unconstitutional condition on the fundamental right to marry, and (4) is impermissible as a bill of attainder.

On June 5, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to stay the case pending the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the petition for a writ of certiorari in the First Circuit Gill/Massachusetts case; Judge Stearns granted the stay the following day.

The Supreme Court held Gill pending its decision in Windsor v. United States, which also raised the issue of DOMA's constitutionality. On June 27, 2013, in a 5-4 opinion by Justice Kennedy, the Court struck down the relevant provision of DOMA.

On October 2, 2013, the District Court in this case held (in light of Windsor, the decision by the Department of Defense to construe "spouse" to include same-sex spouses, and the President's directive to extend veterans' benefits to same-sex spouses) that the definition of "spouse" to exclude same-sex spouses is unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment and that the plaintiffs are entitled to apply for benefits for which they were previously precluded from applying, "without regard to being a couple of the same gender."

On December 17, 2013, the District Court denied the plaintiffs attorneys' fees, finding that the United States' litigating position was "substantially justified" by its deference to Congress, and therefore that the United States is not liable for fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). This decision was upheld by the First Circuit on September 23, 2014.

Darren Miller - 05/02/2013
Nadji Allan - 11/06/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Federalism
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Discrimination-basis
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) United States
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are former service members of the U.S. Armed Forces, married to people of their same sex.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2013 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Limited Partnership
http://www.limitedpartnershipmovie.com/
By: Thomas G. Miller
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States Government says L.A. Gay Couple‚Äôs 1975 Marriage is Valid
The Pride L.A.
Written: Jun. 07, 2016
By: Troy Masters
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:11-cv-11905 (D. Mass.) 09/23/2014
PB-MA-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory, Injunctive and Other Relief 10/27/2011
PB-MA-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment 11/21/2011
PB-MA-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment 10/02/2013 (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0010-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order on Plaintiffs' Application for an Award of Attorney's Fees and Costs 12/17/2013 (987 F.Supp.2d 132) (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0010-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appeal (Fees) 09/23/2014 (767 F.3d 113)
PB-MA-0010-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lynch, Sandra Lea (First Circuit)
PB-MA-0010-0005
Ripple, Kenneth Francis (Seventh Circuit)
PB-MA-0010-0005
Stearns, Richard Gaylore (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0010-0003 | PB-MA-0010-0004 | PB-MA-0010-9000
Torruella, Juan R. (First Circuit, D.P.R.)
PB-MA-0010-0005
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Goodman, John M. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0010-0001 | PB-MA-0010-0002 | PB-MA-0010-9000
Lowell, Abbe David (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0010-0002 | PB-MA-0010-9000
Man, Christopher (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0010-0002 | PB-MA-0010-9000
McClatchey, Ian (New York)
PB-MA-0010-0001 | PB-MA-0010-0002 | PB-MA-0010-9000
McKean, David (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0010-0001 | PB-MA-0010-0002 | PB-MA-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Lin, Jean (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0010-9000
Other Lawyers Bartolomucci, H. Christopher (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0010-9000

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