Yet another court struck a blow against DOMA. Barely a week after a California judge ruled the spousal benefits portions of the ironically named law unconstitutional, another major case won its appeal yesterday.
Gill v. Office of Personnel Management was brought to the court of the District of Massachusetts by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). The case, with lead plaintiffs Nancy Gill and Marcelle Letourneau (pictured) and a dozen others, maintains that DOMA violates the equal protection clause as well as violating the marriage authority ceded to the states in the Constitution. By refusing to recognize legal same-sex marriages (like those in Massachusetts), DOMA tries to trump that authority.
The case was decided for the plaintiffs in 2010 but appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel of that Court agreed that Section 3 of DOMA is clearly unconstitutional, stating that “moral disapproval” is not a legitimate, compelling governmental interest.
The decision will no doubt be appealed and may well take this case to the Supreme Court. For now, however, the victory is sweet and the message is clear. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the plaintiffs who were willing to take the time and energy to fight for what is right and thank you to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.