Defense of Marriage Act: Third federal judge rules law unconstitutional


A group that wants immigration reform for gay partners marches in the Pride Parade at the Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Festival and Celebration in Long Beach, Calif., on May 18, 2008.


David McNew

US District Judge Claudia Wilken has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids federal authorities from recognizing same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported.

Wilken issued her ruling in a lawsuit that challenged the California Public Employees' Retirement System’s refusal to let state employees enroll their same-sex spouses and partners in its long-term care insurance plan, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The Oakland, Calif.-based judge said DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the US Constitution's guarantee of equal treatment, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

“Congress’s restriction on state-maintained long-term care plans lacks any rational relationship to a legitimate government interest, but rather appears to be motivated by antigay animus,” Wilken wrote in her ruling, according to the AP.

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Wilken is the third federal judge to declare DOMA unconstitutional, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

In February, a federal judge in San Francisco said DOMA was unconstitutional when ordering California to allow a federal court employee to add her wife to her employer-sponsored health care plan, the AP reported. A federal judge in Boston has also declared DOMA to be unconstitutional, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

The San Francisco and Boston rulings are under appeal, and Wilken’s decision will also likely be appealed, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

“It wasn’t a revolutionary decision by any stretch,” Brian Moulton, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based gay-rights organization, said of Wilken’s ruling, “but the fact we have yet another judge ruling on DOMA, it’s a constant drum beat at this point, and we’ll see what Supreme Court has to say about it. Sooner rather than later.”

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