A federal appeals court in Boston has ruled 3-0 that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally prevents legally married same-sex couples in Massachusetts from receiving certain benefits given to heterosexual pairs.
“Today’s landmark ruling makes clear once again that DOMA is a discriminatory law for which there is no justification,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. “It is unconstitutional for the federal government to create a system of first- and second-class marriages, and it does harm to families in Massachusetts every day. All Massachusetts couples should be afforded the same rights and protections under the law, and we hope that this decision will be the final step toward ensuring that equality for all.”
Coakley originally filed a complaint in 2009 stating that DOMA interfered with the Commonwealth’s authority to define and regulate the marital status of its residents—and that it “unlawfully requires Massachusetts to disregard valid marriages in its implementation of federally funded programs,” according to a statement from the AG’s office.
DOMA was ruled unconstitutional by the United States District Court in 2010, but anti-marriage-equality activists took it to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Today’s decision affirms the original District Court decision.