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3 States Take Up National Fight Against DOMA, Federal Anti-Gay Marriage Law

Common Dreams staff

Protesters take part in a 2008 demonstration to condemn the ban of same-sex marriages in Los Angeles. (By Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images)

Vermont joined New York and Connecticut this week, in asking a federal appeals court to rule against the anti gay marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), stating that the federal law is unconstitutional.

Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell stated Friday that DOMA, which restricts the legal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, has denied same-sex couples access to federal benefits and perpetuates unfair discrimination.

The three states, which all currently allow gay marriage, argued that they, not the federal government, hold the right to regulate marriage.

The states joined other parties, including New York City, 145 members of of Congress, civil rights groups, religious organizations, and others to file court briefs in support of Edith “Edie” Windsor’s constitutional challenge to DOMA, on Friday.

Windsor is suing the federal government for failing to recognize her marriage to the now deceased Thea Spyer. Windsor was forced to pay more than $360,000 in estate taxes after Spyer's death. She would not have been required to pay the fees if the federal governement recognized their marriage.

Windsor's case has heightened national attention on the fight for marriage equality.

Friday's briefs were filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The arguments for the case will start Sept. 27.

“The number and scope of the parties supporting Edie’s case illustrate the breadth of the harms that DOMA inflicts on married same-sex couples,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It is time for the courts to bring an end to this discriminatory law once and for all.”

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