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New York Judge Finds Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional
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On Wednesday, a federal judge in New York found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional as it defined ‘marriage’ as union between a ‘man’ and a ‘woman.’ The judge says that DOMA improperly interferes with the rights of the state of New York to regulate marriage between its residents.

The ruling by Judge Barbara Jones of the Manhattan federal court follows a decision made last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston which found the Defense of Marriage Act discriminatory with respect to gay couples.

Judge Barbara Jones is the fifth U.S. judge who found DOMA unconstitutional, strengthening the efforts of activists who want to repeal the 1996 law.

  
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The Obama administration is strongly backing gay rights activists in the election year with the President being the first U.S. president to declare on May 9, that he believed same-sex couples should be permitted to marry.

Going at DOMA from a different angle, Judge Jones said that it intrudes “upon the states’ business of regulating domestic relations” under the pretext of providing a uniform law for all. The court observed, “Such a sweeping federal review in this arena does not square with our federalist system of government.”

Already, eight out of fifty U.S. states allow same-sex marriage with Massachusetts being the first and Maryland the latest.

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On Tuesday, again, a federal appeals court in San Francisco refused to reconsider its dismissal of a California ban on gay marriages, paving the path for the question of law to come before the Supreme Court, as to whether such a ban violates the U.S. constitution.

In Wednesday’s case, the judge ordered the return of $353,053 in federal estate tax which the plaintiff was not allowed to claim because her marriage to her same-sex partner was not legally recognized.



Robert Kaplan, the attorney for Edith Windsor, the plaintiff said, “It’s a good day for justice.”

After the Obama administration had made clear that it was no longer going to defend DOMA, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representative took it upon them to defend DOMA.

DOMA prevents members of same-sex couples from receiving any marriage-based benefits like Social Security survivor benefits, health benefits, or the option to file taxes jointly.



 

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