First Circuit holds Section 3 of Defense of Marriage Act unconstituional

The First Circuit in the companion cases of Massachusetts v Department of Health and Human Services and Gill v OPM, found Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The panel chose to apply a more rigorous rational basis standard as marriage is historically regulated at the state level and there is a history of discrimination towards gay and lesbian citizens. The panel held that Section 3 did not violate the spending clause or the 10th Amendment. However, the panel held that the offered justifications in the House Report were inadequate as there was no increase in the benefits offered to heterosexual couples, the Act did not prevent same sex couples form adopting and rearing children and moral disapproval of same sex couples was not a permissible basis to uphold the Act. The panel affirmed on a health insurance issue as the issue was before another circuit court. Recognizing review of its decision was highly likely, the panel stayed its mandate keeping the prohibitions on benefits in place. The opinion can be found here.

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