Published July 15, 2010
BOSTON (BP) — In a landmark decision that could force the federal government to recognize “gay marriage,” a U.S. district judge July 8 overturned part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that the government cannot constitutionally distinguish between traditional marriage and same-sex “marriage.”
Judge Joseph L. Tauro’s ruling in a pair of lawsuits invalidates Section 3 of the law, which says that for the purpose of federal law, marriage “means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”
It is the first ruling of its kind, and if upheld, will place the United States alongside the 10 or so other countries worldwide that recognize homosexual “marriage.” It would force the government to recognize “gay marriages” from Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, and Massachusetts, and by extension grant federal benefits, such as tax breaks and federal employee spousal insurance, to same-sex couples.
The Defense of Marriage passed in ‘96 by margins of 84-15 in the Senate and 342-67 in the House and was signed by President Clinton. But ever since, homosexual activist groups have targeted the law, viewing it as a major impediment to “gay marriage” legalization in all 50 states.
The two lawsuits – one by Massachusetts and the other by the homosexual group GLAD – did not seek to strike down the law’s other major section that gives states latitude in defining marriage. Tauro’s ruling did not address the constitutionality of that section.
Conservative groups responded to Tauro’s ruling by asserting the government has a legitimate interest in defining marriage between one man and one woman.
“Individual states shouldn’t have the right to impose a radical redefinition of marriage on the rest of America,” said Brian Raum, senior counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund. “This judge’s claim that there’s no reason whatsoever for marriage to be defined as one man and one woman should go down as one of the most outrageous rulings in court history.”
Raum noted that “it was a condition of statehood” that marriage be defined as one man, one woman “during the polygamy battle in the 19th century.”
Mathew D. Staver, founder of the legal group Liberty Counsel, said the federal government had a rational reason to define marriage in the traditional sense.
“The federal government can rationally conclude that marriage between one man and one woman is superior to same-sex unions,” Staver said. “Indeed, history and common sense show that marriage between a man and a woman has a procreative component absent from same-sex unions.”
Tauro was nominated by President Nixon.
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