A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests
Thursday saw another fascinating case which declared DOMA unconstitutional. The ruling by Claudia Wilken of the US District Court for Northern California is the third by district level judges that have declared the 1996 law known as the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, to be unconstitutional.
Wilken ruled that the federal law that prohibits recognition of same-sex unions is unconstitutional because it denies long-term health insurance benefits to legal spouses of state employees and retirees. She also concluded Thursday that a section of the federal tax code that made the domestic partners of state workers ineligible for long-term care insurance similarly violates the civil rights of people in gay and lesbian relationships. Both laws were based on what she called “moral condemnation” of same-sex couples.
It’s another nail in the coffin of a law which Obama has said his White House will not defend (although nor is he seeking to be the one to repeal it). A showdown in the Supreme Court looks increasingly likely, but this 1996 law has been on quite a journey.