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 ...
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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