July 8, 2010
A Massachusetts-based judge ruled today that a federal ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional because it interferes with state's rights to define marriage, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled on two challenges to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The state had argued the law denied benefits such as Medicaid to gay married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004.
Tauro agreed, and said the act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens.
"The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid," Tauro wrote in a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Ruling in a separate case filed by Gays & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Tauro found that DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The Family Research Council's Tom McClusky issued a statement saying the organization is confident the decision will be overturned on appeal.
"The federal DOMA does not violate equal protection principles and has not interfered with Massachusetts' freedom to determine its own definition of marriage," he said. "In part, this decision results from the deliberately weak legal defense of DOMA that was mounted on behalf of the government by the Obama administration, which has called for repeal of the law."
The Boston Globe has more on the case.