Friday, April 06, 2012

Family law and federalism in the U.S.

NPR's Morning Edition of April 4 explores a question of family law and federalism. In the U.S. family law is generally the prerogative of the individual States.  Either through legislation or court decisions, several States now allow same-sex marriages. But in 1996 a federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), was enacted. This law prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. As a result, same-sex married couples are not allowed to file joint federal income tax returns, for instance, and a surviving spouse cannot receive Social Security benefits. One such surviving spouse brought suit and the First Circuit Court of Appeals will begin hearings new Monday on whether the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
streaming or downloadable .mp3 - 4 min 24 sec, transcript available.