The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act’s (DOMA) Section 3 is unconstitutional.
Section 3 defines marriage as between a man and a woman, carving out same-sex couples from federal benefits. The Second Circuit ruled that Section 3 violates Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“Homosexuals have suffered a history of discrimination,” US Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote.
“Because DOMA is an unprecedented breach of longstanding deference to federalism that singles out same-sex marriage as the only inconsistency (among many) in state law that requires a federal rule to achieve uniformity, the rationale premised on uniformity is not an exceedingly persuasive justification for DOMA.”
The 2-1 ruling was in reference to the case of Edith Windsor (pictured), an 83-year-old widow who had to pay $US363,000 ($350,000) in federal estate taxes after the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer, because they were not legally married under federal law. The couple were together for 44 years.
Federal judges in New England and California have also previously ruled that the US government may not deny equal federal benefits to legally married gay couples.