News (USA)

Judge dismisses challenge to DOMA, says suit must be refiled

Judge David O CarterA federal judge in Southern California has dismissed the lawsuit that created a public rift between President Barack Obama and gay supporters.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter (pictured) ruled the case — the first of several pending challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act — must be refiled in federal court.

Carter said the suit had been improperly filed in state court before it was transferred to his jurisdiction, and that the federal government can not be sued in state courts. As a result, he said, he would not entertain arguments on its merits, at least not yet.

The case, filed on behalf of Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, a gay couple from Orange County, is challenging the federal law, which prevents gay couples from benefiting from federal rights and protections connected to marriage. The suit claims DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against gay men and lesbians.

Gay marriage supporters criticized Obama this summer after U.S. Justice Department lawyers filed court papers defending the 1996 act.

In an earlier statement, Obama said “The Department of Justice has filed a response to a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged. This brief makes clear, however, that my administration believes that the act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress.”

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