Earlier today the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. The Court stated that Section 3, which prevents the federal government from recognizing valid same-sex marriages performed in states that permit them, violates the U.S. Constitution by treating same-sex couples married in Massachusetts differently than opposite-sex couples married in Massachusetts. DOMA, by defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, specifically prevents lawfully married same-sex couples from accessing federal tax, social security and federal health benefits that are afforded to opposite-sex married couples nationwide.
Our Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler sums up Family Equality’s reaction best in the following statement. “This is a historic day for LGBT couples and families in Massachusetts and all over the United States. We applaud our partners at GLAD on this huge victory.” “It’s clear that the tide is turning on this issue and we are eager for the day that this law is no longer a barrier to all families being able to realize the American dream.”
Positive court decisions such as the First Circuit’s today help further the growing nationwide support for access to the rights and benefits that all families deserve. Recently we have seen such support from the President, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, state legislatures, and the millions of American people who believe in equality for all. Today’s decision is an affirmation of the freedom to marry by the branch of government responsible for protecting the rights of American individuals and families. Today marks one more step in the right direction in our goal of seeking equal access to federal benefits for LGBT families nationwide.