The U.S. appeals court in Boston today became the first such court to declare the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional, ruling that the law unfairly denies equal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
The decision paves the way for the United States Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the 1996 law that limits federal recognition of marriage to the union of a man and a woman. In their ruling, the Boston-based judges emphasized that their decision does not establish a national right to gay marriage, which they said remains a matter for individual states to determine. However, in states such as Massachusetts - where gays and lesbians can legally marry - the appeals court judges ruled that the federal government cannot deny these couples the right to file a joint federal tax return or to receive a survivor’s benefit under the Social Security Act.
Is this ruling a sign that the U.S. is becoming more tolerant of gay marriage? What will happen when the issue of gay marriage inevitably arrives at the Supreme Court?
Esme Deprez, state and municipalities reporter from Bloomberg; she has been covering the issue of gay marriage for two years