A few weeks ago, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that her state would be filing a lawsuit in federal courts, challenging the U.S. government over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Coakley said the reason for the lawsuit was simple:
DOMA affects residents of Massachusetts in very real and very negative ways by depriving access to important economic safety nets and other protections that couples count on when they marry and that help them to take care of one another and their families. DOMA also directly and fundamentally interferes with Massachusetts’s right as a state sovereign to determine the marital status of its residents.
Now, activists are hoping to jump on the momentum started by Coakley and urge other state Attorney Generals to follow a similar path. That’s the motivation at least behind the Web site Defend the Law (defendthelaw.org), which announced a concentrated action alert this week to urge Connecticut’s Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, to challenge the U.S. government over DOMA. Last year, Connecticut became the second state to recognize same-sex marriage.
The site plans on hitting other states, too (which would now include Vermont, Iowa, Maine and New Hampshire) but is starting out with a focus on Blumenthal in Connecticut. Here’s their action plea:
Marriage Equality has also been the law of the land in Connecticut since November 12, 2008. The Attorney General of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, states prominently on his website, “As the public’s lawyer, I am here to defend state laws.” Since marriage equality is indeed the law in Connecticut, we strongly urge Attorney General Blumenthal to follow Massachusetts’ lead and stand up for the citizens and laws of his state by filing a lawsuit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The week of action will happen between August 10-14. More information can be found on Defend the Law’s web site.
This campaign again spotlights the important role that state Attorneys General (Attorney Generals? Bah, pluralizing this one always troubles me…) can play in the fight for equal rights. Here at change.org, we’ve had a petition going for more than a month now, urging Maryland’s Attorney General to allow his state to recognize same-sex marraiges that are performed in states where marriage equality is the law. MD’s Attorney General is slated to rule on this in the coming days, which could move equal rights one step closer to reality in Maryland.
And here’s hoping Defend the Law’s campaign with Connecticut’s Attorney General moves marriage equality one step closer on the federal level.