Significant parts of DOMA ruled unconstitutional

One of the two most significant impediments to LGBT dignity embedded in federal policy has been dismantled in federal court. Via TPM:

A federal judge ruled today that part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

Judge Joseph Tauro, of U.S. District Court in Boston, issued rulings on two separate cases today.

“This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the Commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights, and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status,” Tauro wrote in the decision for Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services.

“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,” he wrote.

In the other case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, Tauro ruled that DOMA violates the equal protection principles in the Fifth Amendment, according to Bay Windows. From his decision (PDF):

In the wake of DOMA, it is only sexual orientation that differentiates a married couple entitled to federal marriage-based benefits from one not so entitled. And this court can conceive of no way in which such a difference might be relevant to the provision of the benefits at issue.

By premising eligibility for these benefits on marital status in the first instance, the federal
government signals to this court that the relevant distinction to be drawn is between married individuals and unmarried individuals. To further divide the class of married individuals into those with spouses of the same sex and those with spouses of the opposite sex is to create a distinction without meaning.

And where, as here, “there is no reason to believe that the disadvantaged class is different, in relevant respects” from a similarly situated class, this court may conclude that it is only irrational prejudice that motivates the challenged classification. As irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest, this court must hold that Section 3 of DOMA as applied to Plaintiffs violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

However, Obama and the 111th Congress aren’t off the hook; parts are still in force. And then there’s DADT. Anyone know how much is left on that “study and review” of the policy?

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