Yesterday the First Circuit Court in Boston dealt a major blow to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that the denial of federal benefits to legally married same sex couples is unconstitutional.
The benefits section was the only part the court ruled on, and the case is expected to go on to the Supreme Court. What’s more, the decision of the court will not go into effect until the decision is either ratified by the Supreme Court, or that body chooses to refuse to hear the case. If the Supreme Court passes, the ruling will go into effect for only the states covered by the First Circuit Court: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire. Puerto Rico is also covered by the First.
The road to equal protection under the law has often been bumpy. It still is. But this is the second federal court to rule aspects of DOMA unconstitutional. It’s my considered opinion – as well as my fervent hope – that DOMA will one day soon (in legal terms, at any rate) go the way of the dodo bird.
Frankly, I’d rather have those birds.