justiceIn a landmark decision this afternoon, a Federal District Court judge in Boston has ruled a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

The case was brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders on behalf of eight couples and three other persons who had been legally married in Massachusetts.  The plaintiffs said DOMA’s section 3, which prohibited federal recognition of legal marriages of same-sex couples, violated the principle of equal protection under the U.S. constitution, and the court agreed.

“This is not a marriage case. If we win, it wouldn’t result in any new marriages. It’s a case where people are already married and they’re being treated differently by the federal government. It’s about equal protection,” Mary Bonauto, lead counsel in the case, told The AmLaw Daily before the decision came down.

If the judge’s decision is upheld by higher courts, the U.S. federal government would have to recognize same-sex couples in legal marriages with regard to multiple federal programs.  The case is Gill, et al vs. Office of Personnel Management, et al.

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