By Mary Ellen Flynn, Attorney at Law
The Federal Appeals Court in Boston has ruled that the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. (The case name and citation is Massachusetts v. U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, 10-2204, 2012 WL 1948017 (1st Cir. May 31, 2012)) This federal appeals decision did not address whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, but rather ordered that when gay couples can legally marry, that they are entitled to the same benefits as straight married couples. As a result, this issue is most likely heading to the Supreme Court, and if the US Supreme Court upholds this Circuit Court decision, then the federal government will have to recognize marriages of gay couples, and will no longer be able to interfere in any state’s definition of marriage. Presently, gay married couples have been deemed ineligible for many federal benefits to which that straight married couples are entitled. This discrimination against gay married couples affects approximately 100,000 couples around the nation. Currently, six states allow same-gender marriages.