A U.S. District Court in Connecticut ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional today because it violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee to equal protection under the law.
Judge Vanessa L. Bryant, a Bush Jr. appointee, ruled in favor of six married same-sex couples and one widower in Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management. The plaintiffs—who reside in marriage-equality states Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont—were denied federal tax, social security, pension and family medical leave protections afforded to married heterosexuals.
“Judge Bryant’s ruling is very clear: married people are married and should be treated as such by the federal government. There is no legitimate basis for DOMA’s broad disrespect of the marriages of same-sex couples” says Mary L. Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director for GLAD, which brought suit on behalf of the claimants. “We are very pleased that the Court recognized that DOMA’s creation of second-class marriages harms our clients who simply seek the same opportunities to care and provide for each other and for their children that other families enjoy.”
Plaintiff Joanne Pedersen (above, with wife Ann Meitzen) said she was “thrilled” about the ruling: “I loved working for the Navy for many years, and now that I am retired I now just want to care for my wife and make sure we can enjoy some happy and healthy years together. DOMA has prevented us from doing that.”
It’s not time for celebration just yet, though, as an appeal is all but guaranteed. But in a definite sense this is a good thing for both sides: Traditional-marriage advocates and marriage-equality supporters alike—not to mention the Obama Administration—are looking to the Supreme Court to settle the matter.