For the first time, a federal appeals court has declared that the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.
In an unanimous decision, the three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples.
Today's ruling agreed with a lower court judge who ruled in 2010 that the law interferes with the right of a state to define marriage and denies married gay couples federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns.
Based on the same analysis, the Obama administration has stopped defending key provisions of DOMA and legal observers say the law may be on its last legs.
Kudos to GLAD, the legal team behind this victory. While more legal hurdles are ahead, the issue has special resonance for Floridians who are legally married in other states. In spite of the fact that the Florida State Constitution bans the recognition of marriage equality, this ruling could lead to the recognition of gay and lesbian couples who are legally married in other states.
The decision comes as President Obama's public support for marriage equality is accelerating the shift of public opinion in favor of marriage laws treating gay couples equally. The tide has turned, and now more than ever, momentum is on our side.
Earlier this month Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith debated John Stemberger, the lead opponent of marriage equality in Florida. Watch as she unravels his far-right fictions with personality, compassion, and common sense.