Nation Digest

Nation Digest: Massachusetts Sues U.S. Over Anti-Gay-Marriage Law

Thursday, July 9, 2009


State Sues U.S. Over Marriage Law

Massachusetts sued the U.S. government Wednesday over the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said the law interferes with the right of Massachusetts to define and regulate marriage as it sees fit.

The 1996 law denies federal recognition of same-sex marriage and gives states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boston, argues the act "constitutes an overreaching and discriminatory federal law."

Before the law was passed, Coakley said, the federal government recognized that defining marital status was the "exclusive prerogative of the states." The U.S. law's definition of marriage denies same-sex couples access to benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including federal income tax credits, retirement benefits, health insurance coverage and Social Security payments, the lawsuit says.

The Justice Department had not seen the lawsuit and cannot respond until it has a chance to review it, spokesman Charles Miller said.

-- Associated Press

Fine for Peeking at Passport Files: A 30-year veteran of the State Department was fined $5,000 in a federal court in Washington for illegally peeking at passport files of famous Americans. Gerald Lueders of Woodbridge also was sentenced to one year's probation. Prosecutors said "idle curiosity" drove the 65-year-old.

Mass. Trolley Driver Indicted: A Boston subway trolley driver was indicted on charges of grossly negligent operation of a train. Aiden Quinn, 24, is accused of sending a text message when the car he was operating plowed into another train, injuring more than 50 people.

-- From News Services

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