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July 08, 2010

Judge Rules Defense of Marriage Act Section 3 Unconstitutional

A federal district court judge in Boston just released decisions in two cases: Gill v. OPM and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services.

DOMA section 3 sets the federal definition for marriage as only between a man and a woman. It similarly defines for federal purposes the meaning of the word "spouse." DOMA section 2, which was not at issue in these lawsuits and remains undisturbed, provides that states need not recognize gay marriages from other states.

In Gill the judge held that DOMA section 3 violates equal protection principles entrenched in the Fifth Amendment right to due process.

In the other case, the judge held that DOMA section 3 violates the Tenth Amendment:

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. The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and, in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid.

They haven't posted the decisions yet. Links and more analysis when I get them. For the Gill case, the thing to look for is whether the judge decided DOMA section 3 was discrimination on account of sex or discrimination on account of sexual orientation, as the two have distinct judicial pedigrees.

Also, if the Obama Administration decides to appeal, expect EPIC DRAMA from the Gay Mafia.

More: While we're waiting for the PDFs to post, consider the federalism issues in the second decision (quoted above). Does DOMA section 3 violate powers reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment? Is the ability to define the marital status of residents a core area of state sovereignty?

Update: Here's the Gill decision (PDF).The Massachusetts case may take more time to get hold of. States are slower than advocacy groups.

Last Update: Here's the Massachusetts v. DHHS decision (PDF), which has much more on the federalism issue.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 05:07 PM

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