Federal Judge Rules Fed Gay ‘Marriage’ Ban Unconstitutional

By Kathleen Gilbert

BOSTON, MA (LifeSiteNews.com) - A federal judge in Boston has ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which enshrines in law the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional.

Judge Joseph Tauro claimed in a ruling Thursday that DOMA violates the right of homosexual couples to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

“This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the Commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights, and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status,” wrote the judge.

“The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state.”

The ruling, although not entirely without precedent, marks the first time a federal judge has attacked the law in a ruling that holds significant legal weight. In February 2009, Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also declared DOMA unconstitutional, but did so in a ruling regarding an internal judiciary dispute. Such a ruling does not carry the weight of precedent, as would a decision on a lawsuit.

Two suits had been placed before the court challenging DOMA, one brought by Boston’s Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the second by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

In the ruling pertaining to both suits, Justice Tauro wrote that “the government’s argument assumes that Congress has some interest in a uniform definition of marriage for purposes of determining federal rights, benefits, and privileges. There is no such interest.”

The U.S. Justice Department has so far declined to comment on the ruling, saying that the decision is being reviewed.

Lisa Barstow, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Family Institute, said that while her organization was “really distressed” over the decision, the future of DOMA would rely heavily on how Obama’s Justice Department (DOJ) chooses to respond.

“We expect that [the DOJ] will appeal; whether they will appeal with gusto is what we are looking at next,” Barstow told LifeSiteNews.com. Barstow said that there “are a number of holes” in the judge’s decision that could easily be overturned if the DOJ chooses “to appeal this in a meaningful way.”

Attorney General Coakley, who made headlines earlier this year as the U.S. Senate candidate unexpectedly edged out by Republican Scott Brown, applauded the ruling Thursday. She called the decision “an important step toward achieving equality for all married couples in Massachusetts.” Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

The attorney general’s suit had attacked DOMA by claiming it violated the Constitution by interfering with state authority, in addition to violating the equal-protection clause.

“Today’s landmark decision is an important step toward achieving equality for all married couples in Massachusetts and assuring that all of our citizens enjoy the same rights and protections under our Constitution,” Coakley said in a statement. “It is unconstitutional for the federal government to discriminate, as it does because of DOMA’s restrictive definition of marriage. It is also unconstitutional for the federal government to decide who is married and to create a system of first- and second-class marriages.”

Posting on Twitter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the ruling “great news!”

The ruling, if upheld by an appeals court, has the potential for a far-reaching impact on other present and future same-sex “marriage” cases across the country, including the ongoing case against California’s Proposition 8. If upheld by the Supreme Court, the case could become the “Roe v. Wade” of the marriage battle by creating a “right” to same-sex “marriage,” nullifying the will of dozens of states that had approved amendments and laws protecting marriage.

Massachusetts Family Institute president Kris Mineau called the decision “another blatant example of a judge playing legislator.”

The question of same-sex “marriage,” when put to citizens, has failed every single time. “This is why their strategy is to force same-sex ‘marriage’ through judicial fiat, as they did here in Massachusetts and other states,” said Mineau in a statement, adding that he was “confident” the Supreme Court would uphold the law.

However, DOMA is likely to face a tough battle in the Supreme Court, especially in light of the nomination of Elena Kagan. Should Kagan be confirmed to the highest court in the land, she would bring another certain vote in favor of striking down the law, as she has already come out strongly in favor of the homosexualist agenda.

In addition, pro-family leaders have pointed to a controversial brief authored under Kagan as U.S. Secretary General, in which the legal defense for the law was gutted by rejecting the ideological basis for maintaining marriage as between a man and a woman. Instead, the brief acknowledged that the Obama administration considers DOMA “discriminatory, and supports its repeal,” before arguing that the plaintiff in the case lacked standing.

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage noted in May that the brief “explicitly and gratuitously rejected the key legal defense” for DOMA: “that such unions uniquely protect children by encouraging responsible procreation.” Following Thursday’s ruling, Brown lamented that, thanks to Kagan’s brief, Obama’s justice department has already “deliberately sabotaged this case.”

“With only Obama to defend DOMA, this federal judge has taken the extraordinary step of overturning a law passed by huge bipartisan majorities and signed into law by Pres. Clinton in 1996.  A single federal judge in Boston has no moral right to decide the definition of marriage for the people of the United States,” said Brown.

Maggie Gallagher, Chairman of NOM, was more optimistic in light of the judge’s argument: she noted that “the right of the federal government to define marriage for the purposes of its federal law and federal territories has been clear since the late 19th century, when Congress banned polygamy.” “Only an incompetent defense could have lost this case. We expect to win in a higher court,” she said.

Mathew Staver of Liberty Council also said that he was “confident” the ruling would be reversed on appeal. (660)

Trisha Simpson (200 Posts)

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4 Responses to “Federal Judge Rules Fed Gay ‘Marriage’ Ban Unconstitutional”

  1. Opponents of marriage equality for Gay couples speak passionately about “States Rights” and Federalism and so on … but the fact remains that MOST of the legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage are bestowed on couples by the FEDERAL government. They number 1,138 according to the Government Accounting Office (GAO). Most significantly they have to do with tax law and Social Security, so it simply wouldn’t do for a Gay couple that is legally married in Iowa to suddenly become UN-married once they move to a neighboring state. On the other hand, any heterosexual couple can fly off to Las Vegas for a drunken weekend and get married by an Elvis impersonator, and that marriage will be automatically honored in all 50 states, no questions asked.

    This is why DOMA is transparently unconstitutional under both the 14th Amendment and the “Full Faith & Credit” clause. I know marriage equality for Gay couples makes some people uncomfortable. There are still many people today who are uncomfortable with people of different races marrying. But “popularity” and “constitutionality” are not always synonymous.

    If the federal government wants to wash its hands of this and leave it to states to define marriage for themselves, the federal government had better be prepared to dispose of all the benefits of marriage under tax law, Social Security, and so forth. I wonder how many married STRAIGHT couples would be happy with THAT?

    How is it that Straight (i.e. heterosexual) couples are encouraged to date, get engaged, marry, and build lives and families together in the context of monogamy and commitment, and that this is considered a very GOOD thing … yet for Gay couples to do exactly the same is somehow a BAD thing? To me this seems like a very poor value judgment.

    It has nothing to do with religion, because the United States is not a theocracy. It has nothing to do with parenting, because one does not need a marriage license to have children, nor is the desire or even ability to have children a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license.

    Like it or not, there is simply no purely constitutional justification for denying law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples the exact same legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities that Straight couples have always taken for granted.

  2. Sam Medal says:

    I agree with Chuck in all but one area.

    In the minds of many Americans, the U.S. IS a Theocracy in that we are supposedly a Christian Nation and therefore a Theocracy by supposition.

    Forget that we are indeed a Republic, in their minds we are a CHRISTIAN NATION and therefore a Theocracy.

  3. Despite Linda Lingle’s shameful vetoing of civil unions for Gay couples, I still take comfort in knowing that sooner or later Gay and Straight couples in the U.S. will be treated equally.

    Exactly how is allowing Gay couples the exact same legal benefits and responsibilities that Straight couples have always taken for granted going to affect ‘traditional marriage?” Marriage equality for Gay couples will have precisely ZERO impact on your life, your marriage, your church, and your children. Your church will never be forced to marry Gay couples, any more than it is forced to marry non-Christian couples. Public schools will not be forced to “teach” about Gay marriage, any more than they are forced to teach about Straight marriage.

    Instead you should ask yourself why law-abiding, taxpaying Gay Americans should be forced to subsidize all the legal benefits and responsibilities that Straight couples enjoy, when we are unable to take advantage of those same incentives to marry? And since when do voters get to decide that the rights that apply to them DO NOT apply to minorities?

  4. David Vivlamore says:

    Sam makes a valid point… but it doesn’t matter whether most Americans believe Theocracy (Christian nation), but whether or not it ‘s constitutional to discriminate because sexual preference, gender, race etc…. Remember the same Christian nation saw no wrong in slavery (even quoted the Bible) to defend it. The majority has been on the wrong side of issue’s many of times; as they were, when it came to slavery. Our constitution was set up to provide equality among the “people” and “gays” are no more “second class” than were black people. I am straight, and not threatened by anyone who is gay…not afraid of them turning my children gay. Gays are born gay, it’s not a disease that if we allow them the same rights as straights, “like invasion of the body snatchers” we will all be turned.

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