Today is a victory for equal rights in Massachusetts, where a federal appeals court just declared that the federal Defense of Marriage act is unconstitutional on the grounds that it unfairly denies equal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
The ruling is also a victory for the Obama administration, which had refused to defend that part of the 1996 law. Although the decision does not establish a national right to gay marriage, hopefully the decision will prove to set a precedent of equality for the upcoming ruling by the Supreme Court on the law that limits federal recognition of marriage to the union of a man and a woman.
Their decision does uphold, however, that in states like Massachusetts, where gays and lesbians can legally marry, the federal government cannot deny these couples the right to file a joint federal tax return or to receive a survivor's benefit under the Social Security Act.
In their opinion, the court wrote that there are more than 100,000 legally married gay and lesbian couples in the half-dozen states that have legalized same-sex marriages and that it is unfair to deny them the rights of other married couples. Amen!
(Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Times)