Court of Appeals Strikes Down Section 3 of DOMA

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deemed Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional Thursday.

The United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday the federal law defining marriage as a union between man and woman is unconstitutional, a decision that members of West Hollywood City Council spent the day applauding.

“Step by step, court by court we are making great strides to knock down this law driven by bigotry,” West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang said in a statement. “And, we won’t give up until we have equal rights for all Americans.”

The issue is expected to reach to the U.S. Supreme Court and Thursday's decision has only added another layer to a national subject shrouded in controversy.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is federal law that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In addition, Section 3 of the law says that no U.S. state is required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state, and insurance benefits, among others, can be denied to same-sex couples under the law. 

Section 3 of the law was struck down by a vote of 2-to-1. 

“This is an exciting milestone,” Mayor Pro Temp Abbe Land said. “By striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals has recognized that it is unconstitutional to deny certain people the right to marry. The freedom to marry is a basic human right, and I have always felt that there is no basis to deny this right to anyone.”

DOMA first became law in 1996. However, in 2011, President Barack Obama deemed the law unconstitutional, even though it continues to be enforced. 

“Once again, the arc of history is bending towards justice,” West Hollywood Councilman John D’Amico said.  

During the 2008 election, Proposition 8, which sought to eliminate the right to marry for same-sex couples in California, was upheld. Weho Councilman John Duran said Thursday that the decision by the Court of Appeals will hopefully add fire to the fight against Prop 8. 

“We are one step closer to the elimination of Proposition 8,” Duran said. “This is the second significant federal appeals court to declare that separate but equal on gay relationships is not sustainable.”

Weho Councilman John Heilman reiterated that Thursday's decision is a large step in a lengthy fight. 

“This is an important step in the right direction,” Heilman said. “The federal government should not be discriminating against same-sex couples who are lawfully married in their home states. Every married couple should receive the same treatment under federal law.”

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