A federal appeals court in Boston ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional on the basis that it interferes with an individual state’s right to define marriage. The three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were unanimous saying the 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman discriminates against gay couples because it does not allow them the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples. Boston.com reports that this will likely set the stage for same-sex marriage to finally be explored by the US Supreme Court.
Appeals Court Judge Michael Boudin wrote the decision for the panel:
“ Invalidating a federal statute is an unwelcome responsibility for federal judges; the elected Congress speaks for the entire nation, its judgement and good faith being entitled to the utmost respect. But a lower federal court such as ours must follow its best understanding of governing precedent, knowing that in large matters the Supreme Court will correct mis-readings.
Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest.
To conclude, many Americans believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and most Americans live in states where that is the law today. One virtue of federalism is that it permits this diversity of governance based on local choice, but this applies as well to the states that have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley praised the outcome:
“Today’s landmark ruling makes clear once again that DOMA is a discriminatory law for which there is no justification. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to create a system of first-and second-class marriages, and it does harm to families in Massachusetts everyday. All Massachusetts couples should be afforded the same rights and protections under the law, and we hope that this decision will be the final step toward ensuring that equality for all.”
Since DOMA was signed by President Clinton on September 21, 1996, eight states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Washington state and the District of Columbia) have approved gay marriage.
GaySocialites.com will continue to cover this story as breaking details emerge!