A federal judge has found a federal law
that bans gay marriage to be unconstitutional.
The ruling handed down Thursday by US
District Court Judge Joseph L Tauro says the Defense of Marriage Act
(DOMA) violates the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection
The case, Gill v. Office of
Personnel Management, is being litigated by the Boston-based gay
rights group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the
group at the center of the gay marriage debate in New England.
GLAD is representing seven married gay
couples and three surviving spouses from Massachusetts who have been
denied federal benefits because of the 1996 law that defines marriage
as a heterosexual union for federal agencies. President Bill Clinton
signed DOMA into law.
Mary L. Bonauto argued that the law is
an unconstitutional intrusion on a matter previously left to the
states. Lawyers representing the government asked for the suit to be
“This presidential administration
disagrees with DOMA as a matter of policy,” W. Scott Simpson, a DOJ
lawyer argued. “But that does not affect its constitutionality.”
Tauro ruled in the group's favor
without a trial.
The ruling is certain to be appealed
and is among the three gay marriage cases expected to eventually
reach the Supreme Court.
The state of Massachusetts has filed a
similar challenge in federal court to DOMA. And a ruling is expected
shortly in a
case that questions the constitutionality of California's gay
marriage ban, Proposition 8.
GLAD's case focuses narrowly on federal
benefits being denied to legally married couples in Massachusetts,
the first state to legalize the institution in 2004.