Federal Judge Finds DOMA Unconstitutional

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro declared that gay men and women recognized as married by their individual states should have access to the same federal benefits as heterosexual married couples. In doing so, he declared Article III of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, unconstitutional.  Tauro wrote that DOMA, enacted by Congress in 1996, “violated the 10th Amendment of the Constitution by encroaching upon the state’s right to define marriage.”  It also violated the Constitution’s equal-protection clause.  In essence, since the federal law does not recognize same-sex marriage, although it has been legal in Massachusetts since 2004, Massachusetts would have to discriminate against same-sex couples by denying them the federal benefits straight married couples receive. www.cnn.com

DOMA, passed under the Clinton administration, defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws, and provides that states need not recognize a marriage from another state if it is between persons of the same sex.  The impact of Tauro’s decision that the federal ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, because it interferes with an individual state’s right to define marriage, and that same-sex married couples in Massachusetts have the same right to federal benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy, may not be immediate.  To date, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., have legalized same-sex marriages.  However, DOMA prevents these states from affording federal rights and benefits to same-sex couples.  Most legal observers believe Tauro’s decision will eventually be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for resolution.

The attorneys at Leeds Morelli & Brown, P.C., dedicate a large amount of their practice to discrimination claims.  For any questions, contact an attorney at the Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C. law firm for a free consultation at 1-800-585-4658. Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C.’s website is located at www.lmblaw.com.