Thursday, August 2, 2012

U.S. District Judge Strikes Down Constitutionality of DOMA

In Hartford, Connecticut on Tuesday, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) faced yet another challenge. United States District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant issued a 104-page decision declaring that the provision in DOMA that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, thus denying tax, health, and other benefits to married gay couples, violates Americans’ Fifth Amendment right to equal protection.

The case, Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, involves six married same-sex couples and a widower who sued after being denied federal benefits, even though they were legally wed under state law. The plaintiffs are from the states of Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Pointing out that “many courts have concluded that homosexuals have suffered a long and significant history of purposeful discrimination,” Judge Bryant wrote that the provision “obligates the federal government to single out a certain category of marriages as excluded from federal recognition, thereby resulting in an inconsistent distribution of federal marital benefits.”

Judge Bryant now joins several other federal judges nationwide who have issued similar decisions striking down the constitutionality of DOMA. In late May, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston also ruled DOMA unconstitutional. Then in early July, the Obama administration made history when it asked the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the legal fights over DOMA as quickly as possible.

Plaintiff Joanne Pederson summed up the feeling of excitement in the courtroom after Judge Bryant made her decision: “I’m thrilled that the court ruled that our marriage commitment should be respected by the federal government just as it is in our home state of Connecticut.”

Take Action: The Defense of Marriage Act has been denying faithful and committed same-sex couples like Joanne Pedersen and her wife the same rights that are given to their heterosexual counterparts. Take action now and click here to urge your members of Congress to stand with Judge Bryant and the Obama Administration in opposition of this unjust and unconstitutional law. All married couples are equal. And they should be treated so by the federal government.