Judge Strikes Down Defense of Marriage Act

He says it's unconstitutional, orders administration to cease enforcing it
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2012 8:22 AM CST
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, accompanied by committee members, speaks during a news conference, Nov. 10, 2011, to discuss legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – A federal judge has declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, ordering the federal government to provide health benefits to the wife of a lesbian court employee. It's the first ruling to come down on DOMA since the Obama administration decided to stop defending it in court, the LA Times points out. The law has instead been defended by the House's Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group—which, despite its name, is predominantly conservative.

Judge Jeffrey White, who was appointed by George W. Bush, ruled that "tradition alone" wasn't sufficient justification to deprive gays and lesbians of their 14th Amendment right to equal protection of the law. "The obligation of the court is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code," he wrote. "The 'ancient lineage' of a classification does not render it legitimate." The ruling mirrors a 2010 decision that is now before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. (Read more gay marriage stories.)

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