Friday, July 9, 2010

DOMA Goes Down in Massachusetts

From the New York Times:

A U.S. judge in Boston has ruled that a federal gay marriage ban is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define marriage.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro on Thursday ruled in favor of gay couples’ rights in two separate challenges to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

The state had argued the law denied benefits such as Medicaid to gay married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004.

Tauro agreed, and said the act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens.

The Justice Department argued the federal government has the right to set eligibility requirements for federal benefits — including requiring that those benefits only go to couples in marriages between a man and a woman.

For those of us who have been wondering when this would become breathtakingly obvious to the court, it is a long-awaited ruling (PDF). The court ruled against DOMA based on violations of the Fifth and Tenth Amendments; that it violated equal protection as embodied in the Fifth, and overrode the rights of the states to establish their own laws.

The right wing will go into paroxysms of all kinds of batshittery, screaming about “activist judges,” and, to be sure, this ruling will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, probably getting there at the same time as Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case being decided in California on Prop 8.

As Melissa said in an e-mail, “Awesome. I can’t believe it took this long to find a court to come the ridiculously obvious conclusion that it forces states to discriminate against their own citizens, even when they don’t want to.”

HT to Scott Madin.