Thursday, July 08, 2010

Big news on marriage

I haven't read them yet, but there are two new District Court decisions invalidating provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Judge Joseph Tauro, of U.S. District Court in Boston, issued rulings on two separate cases today.

"This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the Commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights, and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status," Tauro wrote in the decision for Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services.

"The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and, in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid," he wrote.

In the other case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, Tauro ruled that DOMA violates the equal protection principles in the Fifth Amendment, according to Bay Windows. From his decision (PDF):

Taken together with the decision this week of the governor of Hawaii to veto civil unions, this seems to be another very important step in the direction of marriage equality. (What's the connection? The decision in Hawaii suggests that civil unions are not a sufficient alternative.)

Of course, there are many months and many hundreds of pages of briefing before these cases are resolved, but it sounds like a big step.

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