Here are news releases in response to the U.S. appeals court decision that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional:
(Washington, DC) – The First Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld two lower court rulings finding that the so-called “Defense of Marriage” Act is unconstitutional. The unanimous three judge panel included two Republican appointees, including the author of the opinion.
“Once again, the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage’ Act has been struck down as not only discriminatory against LGBT families, but as offensive to the Constitution’s guarantees of federalism and individual liberty,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “It is worth noting that the author of this opinion is a well-respected Republican appointee, and that the lower court decisions upheld by the First Circuit today were written by Judge Joseph Tauro, a Nixon appointee. Similarly, earlier this year a George W. Bush appointee in the Ninth Circuit ruled against DOMA. As Judge Michael Boudin wrote, ‘no precedent exists for DOMA's sweeping general "federal" definition of marriage’ and ‘DOMA intrudes extensively into a realm that has from the start of the nation been primarily confided to state regulation.’ Conservative principles demand that DOMA fall, and Log Cabin Republicans remain committed to building bipartisan support for its repeal.”
The writing is on the wall for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
A ruling this morning by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision that the denial of federal rights and benefits to lawfully-married same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The ruling -- authored by President George H.W. Bush appointee Judge Boudin for the three judge panel – comes in two cases: Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders on behalf of married Massachusetts same-sex couples who were denied specific federal rights and benefits and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services, brought by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts itself.
Currently, six states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry. This year, legislatures in Maryland and Washington State approved marriage equality laws, but they are not yet in effect and are likely to be subject to popular referenda. Under DOMA, even those lawfully-married couples cannot be recognized by the federal government, and as a result are denied access to more than 1,100 rights, benefits and responsibilities under federal law. These include Social Security survivor benefits, federal employee health benefits for spouses, protections against spouses losing their homes in cases of severe medical emergencies, the right to sponsor a foreign born partner for immigration, the guarantee of family and medical leave and the ability to file joint tax returns, among many others.
In July 2010, a federal district court judge ruled in the Gill and Massachusetts cases that DOMA is unconstitutional. Two other federal district courts and a federal bankruptcy court have subsequently agreed. The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which is currently defending DOMA, is likely to appeal today’s decision, either to larger panel of the First Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
NEW YORK – Today a federal three-judge panel, including two Republican appointees, unanimously ruled that Section Three of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which discriminates against the marriages of same-sex couples performed in the states, is unconstitutional. Below is a statement from Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, and the architect of the Hawaii marriage case cited in the unanimous opinion:
“Today’s unanimous decision issued by the First Circuit Court of Appeals is a powerful affirmation that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is an unconstitutional and unjust law whose days are numbered. This ruling will return the federal government to its historic role of respecting marriages performed in the states, without carving out a ‘gay exception’ that denies thousands of protections.
“As more loving same-sex couples commit their lives to one another in marriage, the harms of this unjust law become more clear – from service members, risking their lives to protect ours, being denied the ability to protect their own families through military medical insurance or survivor benefits to senior citizens having to move out of their homes after their partners of many decades pass on because they cannot access Social Security protections afforded any other legally married couple.”
Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation, issued the following statement:
“The First Circuit has reached the inevitable conclusion on DOMA: the arguments for such a discriminatory, hurtful law just don’t hold up. Over 16 years, DOMA has denied thousands of legally married Americans the protections and responsibilities granted to all other married couples under federal law. DOMA prevents married couples from providing for each other through Social Security; sponsoring each other for visas; helping each other with the tax benefits reserved for married couples; and prevents some service members and veterans from having their marriages recognized by the military. DOMA marginalizes a group of Americans, declares them inferior, and denies them rights granted to all others.
“ DOMA has caused real harm to Americans. A law that discriminates against a class of people just for the sake of discrimination is contrary to our principles and contrary to our laws.”
(New York, May 31, 2012) - Today the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld a lower court ruling finding the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director, Camilla Taylor:
"We are thrilled that another court - this time, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit - has ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny respect to the marriages of lesbian and gay couples.
"The so-called Defense of Marriage Act is being challenged in multiple cases and it won't be long before that bad law is gone for good.
"We congratulate our colleagues at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and the State of Massachusetts for achieving this wonderful victory."
(Washington, DC) Army Veteran and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis applauded a decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which today ruled the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.
"At SLDN, we applaud the court for affirming that legal marriages in the states - and all the rights and protections that come with those marriages - should be recognized and respected by our federal government. Though a narrow decision, this important victory nonetheless paves the way further for litigation like McLaughlin v. U.S., SLDN's case on behalf of married gay and lesbian service members and veterans who are denied equal recognition, support and benefits for their families by this discriminatory law. We congratulate the GLAD attorneys and plaintiffs in this case and look forward with them to the day when every American - especially those putting their lives on the line to protect our nation - has the freedom to marry the person they love, knowing that their commitment will be honored by their government," said Sarvis.
New York/San Francisco • 31 May 2012 ― Marriage Equality USA applauds today's unanimous ruling from the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston that found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional.
"The so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act' was unconstitutional the day it was written, and we are gratified that today's ruling confirms that fact," said John Lewis, Marriage Equality USA Legal Director.
"Marriage is a fundamental right, yet DOMA has denied federal recognition to legally married same-sex couples across the United States," added Stuart Gaffney, Marriage Equality USA Media Director. "Today's ruling sends a message loud and clear, that it is time for marriage discrimination to end."
"We are hopeful that soon all loving, committed same-sex couples, who are legally married in their home states, will no longer be excluded from the over 1,000 rights and responsibilities that all other married couples have under federal law," said Lewis. "The First Circuit Court of Appeals looked closely for any interest that could possibly justify this exclusion, and it found none. DOMA cannot stand."
The First Circuit is the first federal appeals court to rule on DOMA. Two federal district court decisions have also found DOMA to be unconstitutional. No federal court has upheld DOMA.
DOMA's supporters may ask the First Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decision en banc, although observers speculate that such a request is unlikely given that the court has only five active judges. They could also ask the United States Supreme Court to hear the case. The Supreme Court has discretion whether or not to do so.