1st Circuit strikes down DOMA, sets stage for SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage

Supreme Court hearing expected to likely come after the presidential election

The winds of change are blowing in Massachusetts, and depending on what nine robed figures eventually decide, they may just sweep across the entire nation.

In a unanimous decision yesterday, a three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit ruled that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages and prevents same-sex couples who married under state laws from receiving federal benefits, is discriminatory and deprives them of their constitutional rights.

Despite the victory for gay unions, the 1st Circuit said that its ruling would not be enforced until the Supreme Court decides the case. Therefore, same-sex couples will not be able to receive any benefits denied by the law until a definitive ruling is made.

In addition to yesterday’s decision, the high court also likely will rule on another prominent case considering the same issues. In February, the 9th Circuit upheld Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker’s August 2010 decision to strike down Proposition 8, a 2008 California ballot initiative overturning a California Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage, in a 2-1 vote. Supporters of the measure have asked a full 9th Circuit panel to review the case.

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.