Federal Judge Rules Federal Law Against Same-Sex Couples Is Unconstitutional

July 8, 2010 12:00 am

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BOSTON – In two related cases, a federal district court in Massachusetts has ruled that critical portions of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violate the federal Constitution. In striking down the section of the statute that bars federal legal protections to legally married same-sex couples, Judge Joseph Tauro found that the law violates states’ rights to define marriage and violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause by treating married same-sex couples differently from married different-sex couples. Prior to the passage of DOMA, the federal government always recognized the states’ right to define marriage. The cases were brought by the Massachusetts attorney general and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

A bill is currently pending in the House of Representatives that would repeal DOMA and respect state marriages by providing federal protections for married same-sex couples. The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that, once the federal government recognizes the marriage of a same-sex couple, it would continue to recognize that marriage even if the couple moved to another state that would not have allowed the couple to marry in the first place.

The following can be attributed to James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project:

“Today’s decision is an important step forward for marriage for same-sex couples. There are thousands of same-sex couples lawfully married in the five states and Washington, DC that currently allow them the freedom to marry. Today’s ruling recognizes that the federal government has literally no justification for refusing to respect those marriages.

“To finish the job, Congress should pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which is pending in Congress and would completely repeal DOMA. We applaud this decision and congratulate GLAD and the Massachusetts attorney general for their work in bringing the cases.”

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