The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit weighed in on the validity of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), finding unconstitutional the denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts. The First Circuit noted that although DOMA does not prohibit same-sex marriages under state law, it imposes financial and other burdens on same-sex couples, preventing them from enjoying certain benefits of marriage afforded opposite-sex couples. Unlike their opposite-sex counterparts, for example, same-sex couples may not file joint tax returns, with the resultant tax savings, or receive Social Security survivor benefits upon a spouse’s death. Finding that the denial of federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples “has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest,” the First Circuit upheld a lower court decision that the law is unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the First Circuit stayed its decision, anticipating a review of DOMA by the U.S. Supreme Court. (Massachusetts v. HHS, 1st Cir. 2012)
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First Circuit rules DOMA unconstitutional
- Hodgson Russ LLP
- Peter K. Bradley, Anita Costello Greer, Michael J. Flanagan, Richard W. Kaiser, Arthur A. Marrapese III and Ryan M. Murphy
- August 29 2012
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