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Massachusetts court says DOMA is unconstitutional

A Boston federal court has ruled that a law denying same-sex couples certain government rights is unconstitutional. In a ruling handed down on May 31, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the language as set forth in the Defense of Marriage Act inhibits the rights of same-sex couples.

The act, which defines a marriage as only between a man and a woman, is discriminatory against same-sex couples and goes against states’ right to define marriage according to the court. This ruling serves as another victory for Massachusetts same-sex couples who have long desired to enjoy equality through same-sex marriage.

The Defense of Marriage Act was passed in 1996 when federal lawmakers had reason to believe that Hawaii was close to passing a law that would allow same-sex couples the right to marry. However, Massachusetts paved the way by legalizing same-sex marriages in 2004, and since then, several other states followed suit and now recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Unfortunately, many other states have banned it.

Same-sex marriage has been a hot issue in Massachusetts and federal politics for many years now. However, as federal and state courts in several jurisdictions have made clear, the rights of same-sex couples should not be limited based on a government’s selective definition of the term marriage. Hopefully same-sex couples will soon not only be entitled to legally marry in the state of Massachusetts, but also be entitled to the many state and federal benefits that are currently afforded to opposite-sex couples who marry.

Source:, “Boston Court: Law denying benefits to same-sex couples is unconstitutional,” May 31, 2012

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