DOMA Challenge

First Circuit Court Upholds Ruling that DOMA is Unconstitutional

Today marks another successful step towards dismantling the federal ban on marriage equality as the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.A unanimous decision from a three-judge panel ruled that DOMA denies same-sex married couples the federal rights and privileges afforded to heterosexual couples across the United States despite the recognition of same-sex marriages in certain states. This decision responds to two cases; one brought by the state of Massachusetts and the other, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, by Overbrook Grantee Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

GLAD is a New England-based organization using legal advocacy to fight discrimination against Americans based on sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression.The Overbrook Foundation specifically supports the organization for its work to challenge the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. Today’s decision is a victory for the movement to advance the freedom to marry in the United States. It is another important step as the momentum of support for same-sex marriage only continues to expand in 2011 and 2012.

While, as reporters, advocates and allies have recognized, this is only the first decision in the federal appeals process for the cases. Nevertheless, it does represent one more step towards these cases reaching the Supreme Court and the eventuality of the highest court ruling on the constitutionality of DOMA.Beyond advocacy work on the state-level to recognize and allow same-sex marriage, repealing DOMA continues to be an extremely important objective for the movement.We are proud to support GLAD as it continues with its excellent legal work and its determination to eventually eliminate this discriminatory federal law.

For more information, GLAD has published a press release and the court’s written decision after the case was decided. Mainstream media outlets, such as the New York Times, have also picked up this news of this decision and I am sure there will be more opinion and news coverage in the next few days.