Defense of Marriage Act Beginning To Crack

Today the U.S. District Court for the First Circuit found Section 3
of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and found
that married same-sex couples in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
are entitled to the same federal spousal benefits and protections
as other married couples.

The lawsuit, Gill et al v. Office of Personnel Management et al,
brought in 2009 by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders on
behalf of seven married same-sex couples and three surviving
spouses from Massachusetts who had been denied federal benefits
available to spouses, challenged the federal government’s denial of
marriage-related protections and benefits.

In today’s decision, which found DOMA to be in violation of Equal
Protection Clause of the 5th Amendment, the Court struck down one
of the core arguments—child rearing–that opponents of marriage
equality use to justify their position. “A consensus has
developed among the medical, psychological, and social welfare
communities that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are
just as likely to be well-adjusted as those raised by heterosexual
parents. Denying their parents federal benefits of marriage, said
the court, “prevent[s] children of same-sex couples from enjoying
the immeasurable advantages that flow from the assurance of a
stable family structure.”

Boston-based Family Equality Council issued the following statement
from Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler.

“Today’s decision is incredible news both for the individuals
involved in the case and for the bigger picture: the Defense of
Marriage Act is starting to crack. For the first time, a federal
court has confirmed what we have been saying for decades: children
raised by same-sex parents are doing just as well as other kids.
Our families are more whole after today and are no longer
second-class families. Family Equality is continuing to analyze the
consequences of this decision for all same-sex married couples in
the state”

A second lawsuit, Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Health and Human
Services filed by the Attorney General of Massachusetts, challenged
that the law was a violation of States’ rights under the Tenth
Amendment. The Court found, “The federal government, by enacting
and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched
province of the state, and, in doing so, offends the 10th