The U.S. appeals court in Boston became the first such court to strike down as unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act, ruling Thursday that it unfairly denies equal benefits to legally married same-sex couples (this was a unanimous decision of the three-judge panel).
The ruling is a victory for gay-rights advocates and the Obama administration, which had refused to defend that part of the 1996 law.
The decision sets the stage for a ruling next year by the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the law that limits federal recognition of marriage to the union of a man and a woman.
The Boston-based judges stressed their decision did not establish a national right to gay marriage. That issue remains a matter for the states, they said.
But despite losing over and over again in court, House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are still planning to fight for DOMA all the way to the Supreme Court, if need be – dumping millions of taxpayer dollars into defending discrimination.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley lauded the ruling by the First US Circuit Court of Appeals, which came nine years after the state’s Supreme Judicial Court became the first court in the Western Hemisphere to approve same-sex marriages.
“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 every day,” she said.
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