July 8, 2010

Massachusetts Court Rules Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional


Boston, MA – Today Massachusetts federal judge Joseph Tauro ruled against a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defines marriage for federal purposes as a union between one man and one woman. 

In Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, Judge Tauro ruled that Section 3 of DOMA violates the Equal Protection Clause under the Fifth Amendment. In Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services, Judge Tauro ruled that DOMA’s definition of marriage violates the Tenth Amendment rights of states to be sovereign, and the U.S. Constitution’s Spending Clause. However, DOMA does not prohibit states from defining marriage. DOMA states that for federal purposes, marriage is between one man and one woman. Thus, federal benefits provided to spouses in marriage apply only to opposite sex, not same-sex, unions. Judge Tauro found the law “irrational.” Judge Tauro did not rule on a separate section of DOMA, which provides that one state is not required to adopt a sister state’s same-sex marriage. The Gill case was brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and the other case by the Massachusetts Attorney General. The case was defended by the U.S. Department of Justice, which will likely appeal the case but has not stated its position on a possible appeal.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Every court until now that has considered the federal Defense of Marriage Act has found it to be constitutional. The federal government can rationally conclude that marriage between one man and one woman is superior to same-sex unions. Indeed, history and common sense show that marriage between a man and a woman has a procreative component absent from same-sex unions. Moreover, children do best when raised by a mom and a dad. Same-sex unions permanently deprive children from experiencing male and female parenthood. This activist decision must be appealed, and when appealed, I am confident it will be reversed.”

Liberty Counsel has defended the definition of marriage in more than 45 cases and has never lost a challenge involving the federal DOMA.

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