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(NECN: Alison King) - Two new lawsuits have been filed on behalf of gay and lesbian couples in four states to challenge a 1996 law denying married gay couples federal benefits. The lawsuits were filed today in federal courts in Connecticut and New York.
"We felt compelled to join the suit against DOMA for one simple reason," said plaintiff Flint Gehre. "We are forced to pay more federal income tax than other families."
Flint Gehre and Brad Kleinerman joined four other married couples and a widow from New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut -- all plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal district court in Connecticut, challenging the constitutionality of DOMA - the defense of marriage act which they say denies crucial protections to married gay couples.
"Linda was trying to take FMLA, Family Medical Leave Act in order to take care of me from treatments from an injury I sustained in the navy 30-years ago," said plaintiff Raquel Ardin. "They denied her because of DOMA."
They are represented by GLAD, gay and lesbian advocates and defenders, a 32-year-old, Boston-based organization which argues that by denying gay married couples, married related protections like, family medical leave act, social security and employment benefits, DOMA violates the government's promise of equal protection under the law.
"DOMA operates as a time bomb," said attorney Mary Bonauto. "So couples are very happy and they celebrate their marriage and that's certainly understandable, but then, months or years later, DOMA goes off or blows up and they find that they have been denied some clerical part of the safety net that's there for other married couples."
In 2009, GLAD filed a similar lawsuit in Massachusetts. Last summer, a federal district court judge ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional in --that-- case. It's currently on appeal.