Statement from Attorney General Martha Coakley on New York Federal Court Decision Ruling the Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional
“The federal district court in New York has now joined a series of court rulings, including those in Massachusetts, that have found DOMA to be unconstitutional and a violation of basic principles of equality and fair treatment under the law. We are pleased that the court referred to our own case in its decision and we will continue to work to see the very real and very unjust effects of this law undone.”
In 2009, under Attorney General Coakley’s direction, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to file a complaint alleging that DOMA, which affects more than 1,100 federal statutory provisions, violates the United States Constitution by interfering with the Commonwealth’s sovereign authority to define and regulate the marital status of its residents. The complaint also alleged that DOMA exceeds Congress’s authority under the Spending Clause because Congress does not have a valid reason for requiring Massachusetts to treat married same-sex couples differently from all other married couples, and that it unlawfully requires Massachusetts to disregard valid marriages in its implementation of federally funded programs.
In July 2010, DOMA was ruled unconstitutional by the United States District Court, which was appealed by the defendants to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. On May 31 of this year the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional.