NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two days after same-sex
marriage became legal in New York, the state's attorney general
has taken legal action challenging the constitutionality of the
U.S. law which defines marriage as between a man and woman.
In court papers filed Tuesday in U.S. federal court in
Manhattan, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the
Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, violates same-sex couples'
right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.
The 1996 law prohibits same-sex couples from receiving
marriage-based benefits such as Social Security survivor
benefits, health benefits and the right to file taxes jointly.
Schneiderman argued the law intrudes on the state's right
to regulate marriage. On Sunday, gay couples began to marry in
New York after it was made legal.
New York is the sixth and largest U.S. state to allow
same-sex marriage. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia also do so.
"By discriminating among married couples based on sexual
orientation and sex, DOMA deprives New York of the ability to
extend true equality to all marriages valid in the State,"
Schneiderman made his arguments in support of a case
brought by Edie Windsor, a woman who sued the United States
last year after an inheritance from her former partner was
taxed. Windsor, who was married in Canada in 2007, said she had
to pay $350,000 in inheritance tax in 2009 after the federal
government refused to recognize her marriage.
Windsor argued she "was forced to pay in violation of the
constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law."
In February, the Obama administration announced it would no
longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act's section which
defines marriage as between a man and woman.
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