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