House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has described an appeals court's ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a “significant step” toward gay rights.

On Thursday, a 3-judge Boston appeals court unanimously upheld a lower district court's ruling declaring unconstitutional the heart of DOMA – Section 3, which bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Pelosi reacted to the decision in a statement.

“Today's ruling is a significant step forward in our march toward equality for LGBT Americans. Now, for the first time in American history, a federal appeals court has recognized that a law denying federal benefits to same-sex married couples is unconstitutional, we move closer to the day when marriage equality is a reality for all.”

“With this decision, once again a federal court has rejected the position of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which is a single-minded effort by Republicans in Congress to defend discrimination at great expense to the American taxpayer.”

“When DOMA is ultimately found to be unconstitutional, once and for all, it will right a wrong of our past and we will move closer to ending a fundamental unfairness in our nation. We look forward to the day when we discard this discriminatory law in the dustbin of history and when all of America’s families enjoy the blessings of equal protection under the law.”

(Related: Barney Frank “pleased but not surprised” by gay marriage ban DOMA ruling.)