A federal appeals court in Manhattan has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling Thursday, upholding a lower court judge who ruled that the 1996 law that defines marriage as involving a man and a woman was unconstitutional.
As reported by the Associated Press:
Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs as part of a three-judge panel says the law violates equal protection. A federal appeals court in Boston earlier this year also found it unconstitutional.
Judge Jacobs’ opinion concludes that any law which discriminates against gay men and lesbians should be treated very skeptically under our Constitution:
[W]e conclude that review of Section 3 of DOMA requires heightened scrutiny. The Supreme Court uses certain factors to decide whether a new classification qualifies as a quasi-suspect class. They include: A) whether the class has been historically “subjected to discrimination,”; B) whether the class has a defining characteristic that “frequently bears [a] relation to ability to perform or contribute to society,” C) whether the class exhibits “obvious, immutable, or distinguishing characteristics that define them as a discrete group;” and D) whether the class is “a minority or politically powerless.” Immutability and lack of political power are not strictly necessary factors to identify a suspect class. Nevertheless, immutability and political power are indicative, and we consider them here. In this case, all four factors justify heightened scrutiny: A) homosexuals as a group have historically endured persecution and discrimination; B) homosexuality has no relation to aptitude or ability to contribute to society; C) homosexuals are a discernible group with non-obvious distinguishing characteristics, especially in the subset of those who enter same-sex marriages; and D) the class remains a politically weakened minority.
The issue is expected to be decided by the Supreme Court.