A federal appeals court Thursday declared that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples, a groundbreaking ruling all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. In its unanimous decision, the three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman deprives gay couples of the rights and privileges granted to heterosexual couples.
Freedom to Marry press release:
Today a federal three-judge panel, including two Republican appointees, unanimously ruled that Section Three of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which discriminates against the marriages of same-sex couples performed in the states, is unconstitutional. Below is a statement from Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, and the architect of the Hawaii marriage case cited in the unanimous opinion:
“Today’s unanimous decision issued by the First Circuit Court of Appeals is a powerful affirmation that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is an unconstitutional and unjust law whose days are numbered. This ruling will return the federal government to its historic role of respecting marriages performed in the states, without carving out a ‘gay exception’ that denies thousands of protections. As more loving same-sex couples commit their lives to one another in marriage, the harms of this unjust law become more clear—from service members, risking their lives to protect ours, being denied the ability to protect their own families through military medical insurance or survivor benefits to senior citizens having to move out of their homes after their partners of many decades pass on because they cannot access Social Security protections afforded any other legally married couple.”
More after the jump...
If Section Three of DOMA goes and the rest is allowed to stand, the feds would have to recognize the rights of legally married same-sex couples but state governments in places where same-sex marriage is illegal would not. So same-sex couples who want to access the all the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage—those controlled by the feds and those controlled by the states—would have to move to states where same-sex marriage is legal to enjoy all the rights of marriage. You would think that opponents of marriage equality in states like, say, North Carolina (which recently passed an anti-gay marriage amendment to its state constitution), or Kansas (where loving Christian ministers are calling on the federal government to execute gay men and lesbians), would be delighted at the prospect of a DOMA stripped of Section Three. A Section-Three-free DOMA would create a huge incentive for same-sex couples to leave shitholes like Kansas and Mississippi for saner places like Massachusetts, New York, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Washington D.C.—and soon (fingers crossed) Washington state, Maine, and Maryland.
So buck up, haters! If the Supreme Court scraps Section Three of DOMA and lets the rest of it stand, all the gay people in your state will move away. Your daughter's hair will look like shit at her wedding—but, hey, that's a small price to pay for a homofree Kansas, right?