Federal court overturns Defense of Marriage Act; appeal presumed
Published: June 1, 2012
BOSTON (CNS) -- With a ruling that acknowledged the final decision will be up to the Supreme Court, a federal appeals court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional May 31. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the provision of the 1996 federal law, known as DOMA, that defines marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, which had urged the court to uphold the law, jointly issued a press release June 1 calling the ruling disappointing. "The federal appeals court in Boston did a grave injustice yesterday by striking down that part of the Defense of Marriage Act that reasonably recognizes the reality that marriage is the union of one man and one woman," said the statement from Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., chairman of the bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. "DOMA is part of our nation's long-established body of law rooted in the true meaning of marriage." The president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, accused the judges of inventing the legal path to the ruling. "Liberal federal judges in Massachusetts and California have resorted to making up legal standards in order to justify redefining marriage," said a statement from Brian Brown "They realize the legal precedent doesn't allow them to redefine marriage, so they are making up new standards to justify imposing their values on the rest of the nation." Judge Michael Boudin, who wrote the opinion, was appointed to the 1st Circuit by President George H. W. Bush. The other two judges who joined the opinion were Judge Sandra Lynch, appointed by President Bill Clinton; and Judge Juan Torruella, appointed by President Ronald Reagan. The panel cited previous Supreme Court rulings that struck down laws determined to be discriminatory against a class of people as being among the keys to their ruling. They also stayed their ruling pending review by the Supreme Court.
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