BREAKING: Section 3 of DOMA found unconstitutional, violates equal protection

Historic day for LGBT equality. Finally. We needed a win for a change.

A Federal District Court Judge in Massachusetts ruled in two DOMA cases today. In Gill v. OPM, brought by GLAD, the judge ruled:

In the wake of DOMA, it is only sexual orientation that differentiates a married couple entitled to federal marriage-based benefits from one not so entitled. And this court can conceive of no way in which such a difference might be relevant to the provision of the benefits at issue. By premising eligibility for these benefits on marital status in the first instance, the federal government signals to this court that the relevant distinction to be drawn is between married individuals and unmarried individuals. To further divide the class of married individuals into those with spouses of the same sex and those with spouses of the opposite sex is to create a distinction without meaning. And where, as here, “there is no reason to believe that the disadvantaged class is different, in relevant respects” from a similarly situated class, this court may conclude that it is only irrational prejudice that motivates the challenged classification. As irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest, this court must hold that Section 3 of DOMA as applied to Plaintiffs violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In a case brought by the Attorney General of Massachusetts, the Judge found that Section 3 of DOMA violated the Tenth Amendment.

I’ve posted the decisions at AMERICAblog Gay. In the Gill decision, the Judge concluded, “DOMA fails to pass constitutional muster even under the highly deferential rational basis test.” That is a highly deferential test. So, there was no rational basis for the law.

The Judge included this explanation of Section 3 of DOMA:

At issue in this case is Section 3 of DOMA, which defines the terms “marriage” and “spouse,” for purposes of federal law, to include only the union of one man and one woman. In particular, it provides that:

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.

Today, we celebrate. But, this is only the beginning of the process. We’ll have to find out if the Obama administration plans to appeal these rulings. (Note to Obama administration: Please don’t.)


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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