LGBT — May 31, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Federal Appeals Court rules Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional



In a major step forward in giving same-sex couples the ability to marry and have the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples, a federal appeals court in Boston today ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

A federal appeals court Thursday declared that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples, a groundbreaking ruling all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In its unanimous decision, the three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman deprives gay couples of the rights and privileges granted to heterosexual couples.

The court didn’t rule on the law’s more politically combustible provision, which said states without same-sex marriage cannot be forced to recognize gay unions performed in states where it’s legal. It also wasn’t asked to address whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

This is also a bit of a victory for the Obama administration that refused to defend the law in court.

Yeah, it’ll end up in the hands of the Supreme Court but, for today, we’ll celebrate one more step forward to a more compassionate America that allows any two people in love to be married and to enjoy all of the rights and benefits that brings them.

[CC image credit: Limpa Vias.]