A US District Judge has dismissed a case filed by a married gay couple against the country’s Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) on a technicality.

Judge David O. Carter said that the case must be filed in federal court, as it was originally improperly filed in state court before it was transferred to his jurisdiction.

According to the Washington Post, the judge said that he would not entertain arguments on its merits, at least not yet. “There is no point for us to go down the line of decision-making and waste time,” he said during the hearing in Santa Ana.

The Orange County couple, Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, was legally wed during the window where it was legal in California, before Prop 8 was introduced. However their case argues that DOMA violates the US Constitution by discriminating against gay men and lesbians.

In briefs filed with the court, the Department of Justice acknowledged that the DOMA is discriminatory but, bizarrely, said that it would still defend it in court. It said that “even if the Department disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here,” it was obliged under the law to defend it.

DOMA prevents couples in states that recognise same-sex unions from securing social security spousal benefits, filing joint taxes and benefiting from other federal rights connected to marriage. Obama has said that he will seek to repeal DOMA in Congress.

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