The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston today declared that the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminates against married same-sex couples by denying them federal benefits. The court called the law, passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, unconstitutional.
Court says heart of anti-gay marriage law is unconstitutional; discriminates against same-sex couples. (ABC News) The specific case under review by the 1st Circuit, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, was originally filed by GLAD on behalf of several married same-sex couples and widowers in Massachusetts in 2009. In 2010, a federal judge found that DOMA violated the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment. Today’s decision upholds that ruling.
“Today’s unanimous decision issued by the First Circuit Court of Appeals is a powerful affirmation that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is an unconstitutional and unjust law whose days are numbered,” said Evan Wolfson, president of the marriage equality advocacy group Freedom to Marry. “This ruling will return the federal government to its historic role of respecting marriages performed in the states, without carving out a ‘gay exception’ that denies thousands of protections.”
“The First Circuit has reached the inevitable conclusion on DOMA: the arguments for such a discriminatory, hurtful law just don’t hold up.” –Michael Keegan, PFAW
“As more loving same-sex couples commit their lives to one another in marriage, the harms of this unjust law become more clear,” Wolfson said, “from service members, risking their lives to protect ours, being denied the ability to protect their own families through military medical insurance or survivor benefits to senior citizens.”
Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation, also applauded the court’s decision.
“The First Circuit has reached the inevitable conclusion on DOMA: the arguments for such a discriminatory, hurtful law just don’t hold up,” Keegan said. “Over 16 years, DOMA has denied thousands of legally married Americans the protections and responsibilities granted to all other married couples under federal law. DOMA marginalizes a group of Americans, declares them inferior, and denies them rights granted to all others.”