BREAKING…. A three judge panel of The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit just handed down a decision declaring the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Notably, the panel included Judges Juan Torruella and Michael Boudin, both of whom are Republican appointees. Judge Boudin, who authored the opinion, is one of the most highly regarded judges in the country; he frequently sends his former law clerks to clerk for Supreme Court justices.
Section 3 of DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7, defines "marriage" for purposes of federal law:
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word "marriage" means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word "spouse" refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
DOMA does not formally invalidate same-sex marriages instates that permit them, but its adverse consequences for such achoice are considerable. Notably, it prevents same-sex marriedcouples from filing joint federal tax returns, which can lessen tax burdens, see 26 U.S.C. § 1(a)-(c), and prevents the survivingspouse of a same-sex marriage from collecting Social Security survivor benefits, e.g., 42 U.S.C. § 402(f), (i).
It was this section that was struck down. Here’s the money quote:
For 150 years, this desire to maintain tradition would alone have been justification enough for almost any statute. This judicial deference has a distinguished lineage, including suchfigures as Justice Holmes, the second Justice Harlan, and Judges Learned Hand and Henry Friendly. But Supreme Court decisions in the last fifty years call for closer scrutiny of government action touching upon minority group interests and of federal action in areas of traditional state concern.
To conclude, many Americans believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and most Americans live in states where that is the law today. One virtue of federalism is that it permits this diversity of governance based on local choice, but this applies as well to the states that have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage. Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest
These judges are basically saying, "'Tradition' no longer serves as a leagl argument to discriminate against minorities."
Um, okay. Did it ever?