Defense of Marriage Act
1 min

Chipping away at DOMA one section at a time

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – More than a year after the Obama administration said it would no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA, a three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled a section of the law unconstitutional because it denies married gay couples the benefits heterosexual couples enjoy. 

With that finding, the fight over the federal law former president Bill Clinton signed off on in 1996 may now head to the Supreme Court. The ruling was handed down in the same month Obama declared his support of gay marriage.

"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," the First Circuit ruling states. "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. 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," it concluded.

According to the Huffington Post, gay couples will not benefit from the May 31 ruling until the Supreme Court, which decides the constitutionality of laws enacted by Congress, rules on the matter. 

This latest ruling follows that of two judgments in California earlier this year that say DOMA deprives married same-sex couples due-process rights.

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