Obama administration asks Supreme Court to hear Defence of Marriage cases

The Obama administration’s Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to hear two cases against the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA).

AP reports that the earliest the cases are likely to be heard is September, with a decision made in June 2013.

The Defence of Marriage Act states that federal recognition of marriage is restricted to heterosexual couples, thus barring gay couples from a number of rights and benefits.

Last year, the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the controversial law, although federal agencies continue to enforce the ban on federal benefits for married gay couples. The government reportedly hopes for a swift decision on the cases.

One of the cases was brought by federal court employee Karen Golinski, who says the government’s refusal to provide her female spouse with health benefits is wrong and that the Defence of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

The other, Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services, was filed by Massachusetts attorney-general Martha Coakley.

As the Obama administration has refused to defend the law, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has stepped in.

The Republican-controlled House of Representative’s Speaker John Boehner convened the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group which is now defending the legislation in the Department of Justice’s place.