The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a district court ruling that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional in its denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples who are lawfully married under state law.
DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Consequently, federal laws that provide benefits for spouses or married couples apply only to heterosexual couples and are not available to lawfully married same-sex couples.
The court ruled that DOMA’s denial of federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples “has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest” and is therefore unconstitutional.
The court didn’t address the provision which said states without same-sex marriage cannot be forced to recognize same-sex unions performed in states where it’s legal, or whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
The 1st Circuit said its ruling cannot be enforced until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the case.