Federal Court's Marriage Equality Ruling: A Victory for LGBT Rights

June 1, 2012

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On Thursday a U.S. federal appeals court in Boston struck down the provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, in a ruling that is a victory for both marriage equality and for human rights.

The court’s decision, which will not go into effect immediately, paves the way for the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of DOMA as early as next year.

“Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest,” wrote Judge Michael Boudin in the ruling.

Yet despite the unanimous court ruling and President Obama’s recent statement of support for marriage equality, the judges emphasized that their decision does not establish a national right to marriage between same-sex couples. The ruling applies to only to states such as Massachusetts, where same-sex couples can legally marry.

We at Amnesty International have argued all along that marriage equality is about human rights, not states’ rights. We hope that if this case reaches the Supreme Court, the nine justices will uphold the ruling and end the institutionalized discrimination that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community experience at both the state and federal levels.

If you agree, please help us kick off Pride Month by urging Congress to restore the rights of all legally married same-sex couples to receive the benefits of marriage under federal law — and please tell everyone you know to do the same.