Some Democrats are applauding Thursday's ruling calling federal gay marriage ban DOMA unconstitutional; one lawmaker called the law “immoral.”

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled yesterday in two cases against the federal government's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The 1996 law signed by President Bill Clinton defines marriage as a heterosexual union for federal agencies and allows states to ignore the legal marriages of gay couples performed outside their borders.

Tauro's ruling says DOMA violates the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection guarantee.

“It is a disappointing injustice that same-sex couples don't have the same rights – be it healthcare, employment benefits or tax fairness – that my family does,” Dan Seals, an Illinois Democratic candidate for Congress, said. “Our constitution sets forth fundamental human rights that must apply to all Americans equally, and this is an important step in the right direction.”

Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley also applauded the ruling, saying he will “continue to push for its repeal.”

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler praised the ruling as a “vindication of the core principle of equal protection under the law.”

“The decision clearly affirms this nation's fundamental guarantee that no class of citizens will be singled out for unequal treatment,” Nadler said. “In the ruling, the court declared what we always knew to be true – that the federal government has no rational basis for refusing to treat the lawful marriages of same-sex couples the same as all other marriages, and that prejudice against LGBT individuals and their families is not a legitimate basis for any law.”

Nadler has sponsored legislation to repeal DOMA. The bill, the Respect for Marriage Act, however, has attracted little attention and only 112 co-sponsors.

“This legislation is more relevant today than ever,” Nadler added, “and I urge the Administration and the Congress to work actively to repeal DOMA, in its entirely, and to abandon all efforts to defend that unconstitutional and immoral law.”

The rulings only affect the state of Massachusetts, but should the government appeal to a higher court with a broader jurisdiction their impact could spread.

The Department of Justice has yet to announce whether it will appeal.

Another federal-level ruling on the issue is expected shortly in California, where gay activists are challenging the constitutionality of the state's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.