A federal appeals court ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of 83-year old Edith Windsor, who challenged the law, claiming that it is discriminatory toward homosexuals.
“This law violated the fundamental American principle of fairness that we all cherish,” she said in a statement released today by the ACLU.
Windsor had contended that the law violated the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law.
The majority opinion against the Defense of Marriage Act was written by Republican Judge Dennis Jacobs, who was appointed in the 1990’s by George H.W. Bush.
“It is easy to conclude that homosexuals have suffered a history of discrimination,” he wrote. “Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public. Even if preserving tradition were in itself an important goal, DOMA is not a means to achieve it.”
Judge Chester Straub, a Clinton appointee, dissented from the opinion.
“Courts should not intervene where there is a robust political debate because doing so poisons the political well, imposing a destructive anti-majoritarian constitutional ruling on a vigorous debate,” he wrote. “I believe it is for the American people to do so.”
Windsor had first challenged the law in November 2010 after she was required to pay $363,053 in estate taxes following the death of her lesbian partner, Thea Spyer, whom she had been in a relationship with for 44 years. The two reportedly were “married” in Canada in 2007 when Windsor was 78.
“I know Thea would have been so proud to see how far we have come in our fight to be treated with dignity,” she stated today following the ruling.
However, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which argued in defense of the federal Act, stated that he was very disappointed with the decision.
“[This is] yet another example of judicial activism and elite judges imposing their views on the American people, and further demonstrates why it is imperative for the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review in the currently pending DOMA cases as well as to the Proposition 8 case,” he said. “The American people are entitled to a definitive ruling in support of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, as 32 states have determined through popular vote.”
Brown was referring to the fact that in every state where a same-sex “marriage” has been on the ballot, voters have struck it down in order to uphold Biblical marriage.
The court becomes the second in the nation to declare unconstitutional the Defense of Marriage Act, following a ruling in Massachusetts last year. However, it is stated that Judge Jacobs went farther than the Boston ruling, opining that discrimination against homosexuals should be strictly scrutinized by the courts just as judges upheld feminism in the 1970’s.