In breaking news from CNN, a U.S. federal appeals court in Boston ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, enacted in 1996 under President Clinton to define marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. A three-judge panel agreed in an unanimous ruling that the unconstitutionality of the law derives from its interference with an individual state’s rights to define marriage.
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. All Massachusetts couples should be afforded the same rights and protections under the law, and we hope that this decision will be the final step toward ensuring that equality for all.
In writing the unanimous decision, Appeals Court Judge Michael Boudin recognized the history of painful discrimination suffered by homosexuals, but states that the court didn’t reach its decision assuming that DOMA’s “hidden but dominant purpose was hostility to homosexuality.” Boudin added, “The many legislators who supported DOMA acted from a variety of motives, one central and expressed aim being to preserve the heritage of marriage as traditionally defined over centuries of Western civilization.”
Whatever the supposed motivation for DOMA may be, at least the ruling is one big step towards ending the discrimination and inequality the law served to defend.