A US court of appeals ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional because it discriminates against married same-sex couples that are denied federal benefits. The First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston struck down the part of the law that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples, such as the right to file joint tax returns. The court did not rule on the provision of the law that says states cannot be required to recognize marriages of same-sex couples that are performed in other states.
Lambda Legal National Marriage Project Director, Camilla Taylor, told reporters that “we are thrilled that another court- this time the First Circuit Court of Appeals- has ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny respect to the marriages of lesbian and gay couples.” In the opinion, the Court wrote that “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.”
The case is anticipated to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. According to the Associated Press, eight states have laws permitting same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, and Washington State; as well as the District of Columbia. The laws in Maryland and Washington State have not yet gone into effect.
In an interview on May 9 with ABC news, President Barack Obama endorsed marriage equality, saying, “gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally….at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
AP 5/31/12; MSNBC 5/31/12; Politico 5/31/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/10/12