Federal Judge Rules Federal Law Against Same-Sex Couples Is Unconstitutional

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Robyn Shepherd, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Federal Judge Rules Federal Law Against Same-Sex Couples Is Unconstitutional

BOSTON - In
two related cases, a federal district court in Massachusetts has ruled
that critical portions of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act
(DOMA) violate the federal Constitution. In striking down the section
of the statute that bars federal legal protections to legally married
same-sex couples, Judge Joseph Tauro found that the law violates
states' rights to define marriage and violates the Constitution's equal
protection clause by treating married same-sex couples differently from
married different-sex couples. Prior to the passage of DOMA, the
federal government always recognized the states' right to define
marriage. The cases were brought by the Massachusetts attorney general and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

A
bill is currently pending in the House of Representatives that would
repeal DOMA and respect state marriages by providing federal
protections for married same-sex couples. The Respect for Marriage Act
would ensure that, once the federal government recognizes the marriage
of a same-sex couple, it would continue to recognize that marriage even
if the couple moved to another state that would not have allowed the
couple to marry in the first place.

The following can be attributed to James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project:

"Today's
decision is an important step forward for marriage for same-sex
couples. There are thousands of same-sex couples lawfully married in
the five states and Washington, DC that currently allow them the
freedom to marry. Today's ruling recognizes that the federal government
has literally no justification for refusing to respect those marriages.

"To
finish the job, Congress should pass the Respect for Marriage Act,
which is pending in Congress and would completely repeal DOMA. We
applaud this decision and congratulate GLAD and the Massachusetts
attorney general for their work in bringing the cases." 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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