Judge Tosses Prop. 8 Challenge, OKs Removal of Calif. from DOMA Suit

Traditional marriage advocates on Friday lauded the order of a federal judge to remove the state of California as a defendant in a lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

They also hailed U.S. District Judge David Carter's decision to throw out a challenge to Proposition 8, California's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, had claimed that both Prop. 8 and the federal DOMA violate the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Equal Protection Clause.

The two men filed the suit in December 2008 – five months after they obtained a marriage license in California during the short period same-sex marriage was legal last year.

In his ruling Thursday, Carter said California is no longer an appropriate target in the DOMA case because the gay couple who brought it got married in California before voters approved Prop. 8 in the last election.

Also, because the California State Supreme Court recently held that such marriages would remain intact, they had no "injury" or standing to challenge the measure, the judge ruled.

"The twice-expressed will of the people of California for traditional marriage is under assault from many lawsuits, but our recent string of victories in both state and federal courts is very gratifying," commented Andrew Pugno, chief legal counsel for ProtectMarriage.com.

"ProtectMarriage.com will continue to fight for marriage and fight to defend the will of the people, no matter what course and no matter what legal theory they conjure up," Pugno added.

While California will be removed as a defendant to the DOMA lawsuit, the U.S. government remains a defendant.

Portions of the case will be heard in August with the next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 3.

The U.S. Department of Justice is arguing to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriages.