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Gay California couple's lawsuit dismissed

Aug. 25, 2009 at 1:03 PM

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A California judge has dismissed a gay couple's lawsuit that challenged the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, authorities said.

Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, of Orange County, failed to identify any personal injury suffered because of the law, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled Monday.

The lack of "an injury in fact" meant the federal court lacked jurisdiction to consider broader constitutional questions about the law, which bars the federal government from treating same-sex marriages as legal or granting federal benefits to same-sex spouses, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

A U.S. Justice Department official last week called the Marriage Act discriminatory but said the department was obliged to defend it until Congress moves to repeal or amend the law.

A suit filed by Smelt and Hammer in California Superior Court was dismissed earlier this year on similar grounds because their marriage is considered legal in California, the Times said.

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