"Irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest," said U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro, when he ruled yesterday that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the protection under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. The ruling gives gay married couples in Massachusetts the same right to federal benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy.
This could be a big moment for gay marriage rights all over the country. And it rests in President Obama's hands.
His administration is "reviewing" the decision to determine if it will appeal Tauro's ruling that the federal ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates states' rights.
If the Department of Justice appeals the decision and the ruling is upheld by the Supreme Court, gay marriage could win constitutional protection. That's what happened for interracial marriage in 1967 after a ruling that declared a Virginia ban on interracial marriage unconstitutional ended all similar bans in other states.
Same-sex unions have been legal in Massachusetts since 2004, but the Defense of Marriage act (DOMA) excluded gay married couples from benefits available to heterosexual married couples.
Like the judge said, "Irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest."
Let's get this show on the road already.
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