BOSTON (May 31, 2012) – On Thursday, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled section three of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, citing a state’s power to determine its own definition of marriage.
Appeals Court Judge Michael Boudin, a President George H.W. Bush appointee, wrote the unanimous opinion for the three-judge panel.
“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.”
DOMA passed in 1996 during the Clinton administration. Section two of the law stipulates states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages valid in other states, and section three creates a federal definition of marriage.
“In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”
The law does not invalidate same-sex marriages in states that allow them, but it does deny same-sex couples federal benefits, such as the ability to file as “married” on tax returns and access to Social Security survivor benefits.
The appellate court ruling dealt with section three.Details