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ACLU Lens: Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down DOMA

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May 31, 2012

A federal appeals court in Massachusetts ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies married same-sex couples the same federal benefits available to other married couples.

The case, 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.

The American Civil Liberties Union has a similar case awaiting a decision in federal court on behalf of Edith “Edie” Windsor, who was forced to pay over $300,000 in taxes after the death of her spouse Thea Spyer, which she would not have had to pay if she married a man. Edie and Thea were together for 44 years, becoming engaged in 1967 and finally marrying in Canada in 2007. Edie nursed Thea through a long struggle with multiple sclerosis before Thea died in 2009. Despite their lifelong commitment, they were strangers in the eyes of the government.

A decision in the case is expected at any time.

In the News:

Boston Globe: Federal Appeals Court Rules Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional

MetroWeekly: DOMA’s Federal Definition of Marriage Rule Unconstitutional

The Hill: Federal Appeals Court Finds Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional

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