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Federal ban on gay marriage ruled unconstitutional

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by Rachel Slajda

A federal judge ruled today that part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

Judge Joseph Tauro, of U.S. District Court in Boston, issued rulings on two separate cases today.

"This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the Commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights, and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status," Tauro wrote in the decision for Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services.

"The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and, in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid," he wrote.

In the other case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, Tauro ruled that DOMA violates the equal protection principles in the Fifth Amendment, according to Bay Windows. From his decision (PDF):

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 both cases, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, ruled specifically on section 3 of DOMA, which reads:

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 a wife.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts case was brought by the state Attorney General, Martha Coakley; the Gill case was filed by the New England-based legal group GLAD.

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The ruling is silly in the way he worded it. Marriage by definition and spouse by definition are that which DOMA says they are and have been.

The one's who argue that gay men and marry women and vise versa are correct. It's not a matter of discrimination in marriage.

However, it is a discrimination in the benefits that are received because of a union of two individuals.

I keep saying, to solve this problem, the government should take its hands out of marriage entirely and then decree any two individuals that wish to seek union to hold a civil contract with one another.

It's really not that hard to do if you could get the religious nutters out of the concept...


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