The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston today affirmed a lower federal court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally discriminates against legally married same-sex couples. The court also stayed its decision in anticipation of a final ruling on the matter by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In its ruling, the court said moral disapproval of homosexuality was not a constitutionally valid reason for the law. Additionally, Congress could not show that passage of DOMA would protect or advantage heterosexual marriage, which was one of its stated reasons for enacting the legislation, the court said:
Although the House Report is filled with encomia to heterosexual marriage, DOMA does not increase benefits to opposite-sex couples–whose marriages may in any event be childless, unstable or both–or explain how denying benefits to same-sex couples will reinforce heterosexual marriage. Certainly, the denial will not affect the gender choices of those seeking marriage. This is not merely a matter of poor fit of remedy to perceived problem…, but a lack of any demonstrated connection between DOMA’s treatment of same-sex couples and its asserted goal of strengthening the bonds and benefits to society of heterosexual marriage.