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Coakley Joins National Fight Against Gay Marriage Ban

Saturday, March 02, 2013


President Barack Obama isn't the only one taking aim at at laws banning same-sex marriage across the country. The Commonwealth's Attorney General Martha Coakley filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court this week, leading a multi-state effort urging the justices to declare California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

“Our experience in Massachusetts has unequivocally shown that ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage has only strengthened the institution,” Coakley said. “We urge the Court to strike Proposition 8 down because it discriminates against gay and lesbian individuals and their families.”

Thirteen other states joined on Coakley's brief, including Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. California's AG filed a separate brief in support of marriage equality.

Coakley is no stranger to the legal fight for the marriage rights of same-sex couples. Back in 2009, the AG led Massachusetts to become the first state in the nation to file a complaint alleging that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the Constitution by interfering with the Commonwealth’s sovereign authority to define and regulate the marital status of its residents.

In July of 2010, the U.S. District Court ruled in the state's favor that DOMA was unconstitutional, and in May of last year the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.

However, in June 2012, the defendants from the DOMA case requested that the U.S. Supreme Court review the case and hear arguments, to which Coakley's office responded with its own brief asking that the ruling be upheld.

“The Defense of Marriage Act is a discriminatory and unconstitutional law that harms thousands of families in Massachusetts and takes away our state’s right to extend marriage equality to all couples," Coakley said. "It is our firm conviction that in order to truly achieve marriage equality all couples must enjoy the same rights and protections under both state and federal law. If the Supreme Court chooses to examine this case, we will look forward to once again making clear that DOMA and its pervasive discrimination is unconstitutional and should be ended.”

This week the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief of its own with the nation's top court supporting equal marriage rights for same-sex couples and against DOMA.

“In just the few years since we filed our suit challenging DOMA, DOJ has moved from vigorously defending it to now joining the fight for marriage equality," said Coakley. "We commend them for this, and believe it reflects the continuing momentum toward standing up for fairness and equality for all of our citizens.”


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