Appeals court nixes Defense of Marriage Act

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

A ruling today from a federal appeals court in New York will add fuel to an issue that's expected to reach the Supreme Court soon.

The divided appeals court ruled that a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. The court said the gay population has "suffered a history of discrimination."

Agreeing with a federal appeals court in Boston, the panel in New York said it found no reason that the Defense of Marriage Act could be used to deny benefits to married gay couples.

The ruling went even further than the one from Boston, in that it said discrimination from gays should be examined by the courts in the same heightened way as discrimination faced by women in the 1970s.

A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union calls the ruling "a watershed moment in the legal movement for lesbian and gay rights."

The judge who dissented in the 2-to-1 ruling wrote that if the government is going to change its understanding of marriage, it's up to "the American people to do so."

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