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Federal gay marriage ban is ruled unconstitutional

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BOSTON – The federal law banning gay marriage is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define the institution and therefore denies married gay couples some federal benefits, a federal judge ruled Thursday in Boston.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled in favor of gay couples' rights in two separate challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, a 1996 law that the Obama administration has argued for repealing. The rulings apply to Massachusetts but could have broader implications if they're upheld on appeal.

The state had argued the law denied benefits such as Medicaid to gay married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004.

Tauro agreed and said the act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens in order to be eligible for federal funding in federal-state partnerships.

The act "plainly encroaches" upon the right of the state to determine marriage, Tauro said in his ruling on a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Martha Coakley. In a ruling in a separate case filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Tauro ruled the act violates the equal protection of the U.S. Constitution.

Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who filed a lawsuit challenging the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, talks with Chris Hayes about the implications of the federal court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

[ame=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/38158827#38158827]Rachel Maddow Show[/ame]

What the DOMA ruling means for marriage

Tobias Wolff, University of Pennsylvania Law School professor dissects the ruling in the Defense of Marriage Act case to explain the legal details.

[ame=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/38158848#38158848]Rachel Maddow Show[/ame]

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


                                               Look at the flowers

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