August 1st, 2012 | City

Conn. federal judge rules DOMA unconstitutional

At the Abraham Ribicoff Federal Building in Hartford, District Judge Vanessa Bryant ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, is unconstitutional.
At the Abraham Ribicoff Federal Building in Hartford, District Judge Vanessa Bryant ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

A Connecticut judge ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the constitutional right to equal protection, the latest in a string of setbacks against the 1996 law.

In a suit against the federal government, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant issued a 104-page decision Tuesday that found the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, unconstitutional. In the decision, Bryant found that the plaintiffs, which included six same-sex couples and a widower, were unfairly denied federal benefits as a result of the act, also known as DOMA.

Bryant wrote that she found “no conceivable rational basis” for the provision denying benefits to gay couples and that the provision “violates the equal protection principles” in the Constitution.

“Judge Bryant’s ruling is very clear: married people are married and should be treated as such by the federal government,” said Mary Bonauto, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders’ civil rights project director, in a statement. “There is no legitimate basis for DOMA’s broad disrespect of the marriages of same-sex couples.”

So far, one federal appellate court, five federal district courts and one bankruptcy court have ruled the law unconstitutional. Four DOMA cases are currently awaiting responses for review by the Supreme Court.