Massachusetts sues – claims feds overstepping reach into state issues

Massachusetts’ attorney general has sued the federal government claiming the Defense of Marriage Act is an overreaching and discriminatory law. In other words, marriage is a state issue, not federal, and non-traditional couples are being discriminated against. Why the complaint? They are not getting any cash from the feds.

It really is simple as that. Martha Coakley, attorney general for the commonwealth, filed the lawsuit in Boston federal court. From…

The Massachusetts lawsuit challenges the section of the federal law that creates a federal definition of marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

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

The lawsuit also argues that the federal law requires the state to violate the constitutional rights of its citizens by treating married heterosexual couples and married same-sex couples differently when determining eligibility for Medicaid benefits and when determining whether the spouse of a veteran can be buried in a Massachusetts veterans’ cemetery.

So let me get this straight, Massachusetts is perfectly willing to give up their responsibilities as defined in the U.S. Constitution if they get federal funding, but since there is no money involved, the commonwealth is – in a round-about way – referring to the Tenth Amendment?

The Tenth Amendment
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

To clarify, the Constitution specifically limits the role of the federal government and the Tenth Amendment makes it clear any powers not delegated to the United States (federal government) are reserved to the States or to the people. And yes, Massachusetts mentions gay couples are discriminated against because they do not get federal benefits other couples receive.


Want federal education funds? Follow the federal rules set by the No Child Left Behind law. Don’t like the law? You don’t get the cash.

Want federal funds to help buy open space land? Follow the federal environmental rules set by the EPA or you don’t get the cash.

Look, I think the success of the United States is directly related to its culture and in my opinion, the country and family is stronger with marriage defined as between a man and a woman. That said, since marriage is not one of those few items listed in the Constitution, the definition of marriage may fall to the states. Some may argue that government should not be involved in marriage at all, while others note the basic structure of the United States is directly tied to the success of the family and therefore, its definition and support falls to the feds.


2 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Hmmm, if Coakley is successful with this litigation to resist the usurpation of state's rights by the Federal government (in this case, a Republican bit o' law), then, given what I, as someone with no legal qualifications, can see, some rather interesting precedent will be set with regard to one of Obama's pet projects: the so called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). Change the names, and the relevance to the 10th Amendment remains clear.

    I defer to SOS's able legal perspective (unless she is working on a Cape Codder right now… 😉 )…

  2. PatRiot
    PatRiot says:

    Politicians & lawyers believe ANYTHING is negotiable, including God given rights & the Constitution. Not so with real Americans.

    Pick up your copy of the Constitution & find that MOST of it is under attack (& probably has been for decades).

    We better wake up the rest of us good citizens before we find pieces of the white house being sold off to China to pay our debt. Is NOTHING sacred to these people?

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