DOMA Struck Down by Federal Appeals Court

by Philip Yabut in

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the statute that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, suffered another blow when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals declared Section 3 of the act unconstitutional in a 2-1 decision. In striking down DOMA, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, applied "intermediate scrutiny" in finding that homosexuals are a class historically subject to discrimination and with little political power to defend themselves against the majority, and that DOMA's "classification of same-sex spouses is not substantially related to an important government interest."  Further, the court did not consider DOMA's interest in protecting "traditional (i.e., opposite-sex) marriage" as a civil institution:

Our straightforward legal analysis sidesteps the fair point that same-sex marriage is unknown to history and tradition. But law (federal or state) is not concerned with holy matrimony.  Government deals with marriage as a civil status--however fundamental--and New York has elected to extend that status to same-sex couples.  A state may enforce and dissolve a couple’s marriage, but it cannot sanctify or bless it.  For that, the pair must go next door.

With two federal appeals courts now on record striking down DOMA, it is probably only a matter of time when the Supreme Court gets the final say.

The case is Windsor v. U.S., (2d Cir. Oct. 18, 2012).

See also, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management (1st Cir, May 31, 2012).

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