Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against the federal government that claims the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, unfairly excludes married same-sex couples from marriage-related rights and protections. In the suit, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley claims DOMA exceeds Congress' authority and interferes with the state's sovereign authority to regulate the marital status of its residents.

Section 3 of DOMA creates separate and unequal categories of married couples, the lawsuit alleges, and denies the state's 16,000 same-sex couples access to benefits, such as the ability to file a joint federal tax return, Social Security survivor benefits, guaranteed leave from work to care for sick spouses, flexible spending accounts for medical expenses of spouses, and gift tax and estate tax exemptions for spouses. "Today, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts takes an important step toward ensuring equality and fairness for its citizens and maintaining our authority as a sovereign state," said Attorney General Coakley. "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."

View Coakley's entire statement and the complaint on the Massachusetts Attorney General Web site.

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