Romance? It’s all about economics, dahling
A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has unanimously ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman — is unconstitutional. The judges ruled that the 1996 law deprives homosexual couples of the rights and privileges granted to heterosexual couples.
Lending credence to those who have long claimed that the same-sex marriage issue revolves around financial considerations, the ruling addressed the matter of federal benefits to same sex “married” couples including the ability to file joint tax returns. The judges referred to the “burden and restrictions” of DOMA saying it penalized homosexuals by limiting tax and social security survivor’s benefits to opposite-sex couples. “If one party is in federal service, the other cannot take advantage of medical care and other benefits available to opposite-sex partners. Survivor’s social security, spouse-based medical care and tax benefits are major detriments on any reckoning; provision for retirement and medical care are, in practice, the main components of the social safety net for vast numbers of Americans,” they wrote.
Two of the three judges who decided the case were Republican appointees. Michael Boudin (President George H.W. Bush) and Judge Juan Terrell (President Ronald Reagan). Chief Judge Sandra Lynch was appointed by Bill Clinton.
Read the decision here.
The court’s ruling did not address the law’s provision, which declared states without same-sex “marriages” cannot be forced to recognize such unions performed in states where it’s legal. It also wasn’t asked to address whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
The Appeals Court said its ruling wouldn’t be enforced until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the case, meaning that same-sex couples will not currently be eligible to receive the economic benefits not recognized by DOMA. That’s because the ruling only applies to states within the circuit, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico. Only the Supreme Court has the final say in deciding whether a law passed by Congress is unconstitutional.
Although media sources claim there is growing acceptance of the practice, thirty states have constitutionally banned same-sex unions. Marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman in at least 42 states. Currently, 31 states have added amendments banning same-sex unions to their constitutions.