Defense Of Marriage Act Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Appeals Court

Defense Of Marriage Act Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Appeals CourtA federal appeals court in New York became the nation’s second to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, finding that the Clinton-era law’s denial of federal benefits to married same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The divisive act, which was passed in 1996, bars federal recognition of such marriages and says other states cannot be forced to recognize them.

‘Benefit of spousal deductions’

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined Thursday that the federal law violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause, ruling in favor of widow Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian who sued the federal government for charging her more than $363,000 in estate taxes after being denied the benefit of spousal deductions.

The court upheld a lower court’s decision in a 2-1 majority ruling and determined that America’s gay population “has suffered a history of discrimination” similar to that faced by women in years past. The case centered on the money Windsor wanted back, but it raised the more looming question of whether the federal government can continue to ignore a state’s recognition of her marriage and financially penalize her as a result.


‘Nonissue’

In February, the Obama administration ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the law, though a GOP-backed group has since taken up the issue in courts across the country. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Maryland, Washington, Maine and Minnesota are voting on the issue in November referendums. Five states — Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island — allow civil unions that provide rights similar to marriage.

For her part, Windsor said she wants Thursday’s decision to be “part of the beginning of the end” so that married homosexual couples someday will be viewed the same as heterosexual ones in the government’s eyes. And she wants the entire issue of a person’s sexual orientation to soon become a nonissue when it comes to marriage in American society.

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Source: CNN

Image: Mother Nature Network

Maryland Approves Same-sex Marriage Bill

Maryland became the eighth U.S. state to allow same-sex marriage Thursday as Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation he said secures the “human dignity” of all residents, including gay and lesbian couples.

Six states and the District of Columbia already issue same-sex marriage licenses — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Five states — Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island — allow civil unions that provide rights similar to marriage.

The Maryland House of Delegates approved the measure O’Malley signed Thursday less than two weeks after Washington state legislators voted to legalize same-sex marriage. That measure will take effect in the summer if it survives a likely court challenge. New Jersey lawmakers approved same-sex marriage this month, but Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the legislation. He has said voters should decide the issue in a statewide referendum.


Voters in Minnesota and North Carolina, meanwhile, will consider proposals in November to ban gay marriage in those states. New Hampshire lawmakers may also consider a repeal of its same-sex marriage law, according to the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage. Lawsuits seeking to expand civil unions or turn back laws banning same-sex marriages are working through the courts in at least 12 states, including Hawaii, Minnesota and California, the organization said.

Same-sex marriage became a national issue in 1993, after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that a ban on such unions violated the state constitution.

Source: CNN

Image: News Observer