A federal judge overseeing a dispute over death benefits between the parents and wife of a deceased Cozen O’Connor partner has requested the parties brief the constitutional question of same-sex marriage, increasing the potential for a determination of whether the Defense of Marriage Act and a similar Pennsylvania statute are valid.

U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones II’s order filed Thursday in Cozen O’Connor v. Tobits came just days after the Department of Justice acknowledged a potential constitutional challenge but held back on intervening until it became clear that such issues would even be reached when the judge ruled on the pending motions to dismiss and for judgment on the pleadings. Now, Jones has given the DOJ until Dec. 30 to brief the issue if it so desires.

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