James P. Ryan, Esq., a family lawyer from Plymouth, Michigan, just alerted me to breaking news: The New York Times has just announced that a three-judge panel of the First United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled unanimously today that the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress in 1996, discriminates against married same-sex couples by denying them the same federal benefits afforded to heterosexual couples. Because it is anticipated that an application for certiorari will be filed in the United States Supreme Court, the decision will have no immediate effect.
Today’s ruling upheld an earlier decision by a lower court. This is the first time an appeals court has declared the federal law unconstitutional. The ruling dealt only with the question of federal benefits for same-sex couples; it did not address the legality of same-sex marriage.