DOMA Unconstitutional: 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling
US Circuit Court Rules DOMA Unconstitutional
A panel of judges on the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. You can download the full text of the DOMA ruling via the link below, or read it at the bottom of this page.
The gist of the ruling, which will not come into effect until the US Supreme Court hears the case, is that DOMA violates the US Constitution by denying same-sex married couples the federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples.
The ruling affects only the states (and territory) within the 1st Circuit: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, and Puerto Rico.
A key passage:
"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."
The ruling does not address another sticking point of DOMA, which allows states to disregard legal marriages performed in other states.
President Barack Obama, before coming out in favor of nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, said that the US Justice Dept. would no longer be defending DOMA in court. DOMA was passed in 1996 under the Clinton Administration, during the moral panic kicked off by Hawaii's move to legalize same-sex marriage. Hawaii never did get around to legalizing same-sex marriage, though civil unions became legal in 2012.
Consequently, House Speaker John Boehner formed the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, whose sole purpose was to defend DOMA.
Of course, the larger issue is whether or not the right of consenting adults to marry should even be cherry-picked at a state level: a human right is a human right. We're yet to see a reasonable non-religious argument against this.