A federal appeals court ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Massachusetts, said that DOMA imposes a burden on both states and couples without a legitimate federal purpose. The decision is expected to be reviewed by the United States Supreme Court.
According to the court decision, DOMA affects more than 1,000 references to marriage in federal laws. As a result, same-sex couples who are married in U.S. states are denied substantial benefits from the federal government. Same-sex couples cannot file joint federal tax returns. Spouses cannot collect Social Security survivor benefits. Federal employees cannot share their health insurance with their spouses.
The First Circuit ruled that the burden placed on the more than 100,000 same-sex couples could not be justified. It rejected the argument that the underlying purpose of DOMA was "hostility toward homosexuality." Support for traditional marriage, ...1