Second Circuit Rules DOMA Unconstitutional

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The Act defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. The Act has resulted in, for example, many same-sex spouses being denied federal benefits, including pensions, and same sex spouses not being recognized as married for immigration purposes. The Second Circuit is the second appeals court to rule that the Act is unconstitutional. The Second Circuit went further, explaining that when an act discriminates against gay people, the courts must presume that the discrimination is unconstitutional, shifting the burden onto the government to explain why such discrimination does not violate the Equal Protection clause. As advocates of equality, we applaud today’s ruling and hope that the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the issue next year, agrees.