Friday, July 09, 2010

Boston, Massachusetts Federal Judge Rules Part Of DOMA Unconstitutional

On July 8, 2010, Boston, Massachusetts U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional with respect to claims brought by seven married same-sex couples and three widowers from Massachusetts. Under the ruling, the plaintiffs are entitled to the same federal spousal benefits and protections as every other married couple. The court found that it is up to the STATE to decide whether they can define what marriage is and that the federal government cannot encroach on that definition because it amounts to discrimination. Read decision here.

So what does that mean for couples here in Texas?  Well it's a victory for state rights but unfortunately for Texans, same-sex Texas couples who are married elsewhere, such as Massachusetts, are still ineligible to receive federal benefits because we have our own version of DOMA in the 2005 Amendment to the Texas Constitution that prohibits same-sex marriage.  Thus, no state benefits and no federal benefits.  We need a ruling here in Texas from a federal court that declares DOMA violates the Tenth Amendment AND also from one of our state appellate court declaring that the Texas constitutional amendment is likewise unconstitutional and violates Equal Protection.

It's possible but unlikely considering the conservative upper level appellate courts that we have in Texas.  However, we may get a bite at the apple when the Naylor v. Daly and the J.B. v. H.B. cases go up.