DOMA: 2nd Circuit rules federal ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, sets stage for SCOTUS fight.

Appeals Court Second to Rule DOMA Unconstitutional

Appeals Court Second to Rule DOMA Unconstitutional

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Oct. 18 2012 12:10 PM

Appeals Court Becomes Second To Rule DOMA Unconstitutional

The Supreme Court is expected to take up the issue of DOMA before the end of this term

Photo by Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images.

A federal appeals court in Manhattan today struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, becoming the second such court to do so and making it that much more likely that the issue will be decided by the Supreme Court sooner than later.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling Thursday. The decision upholds a lower court judge who ruled that the 1996 law that defines marriage as involving a man and a woman was unconstitutional. The three-judge panel says the law violates equal protection. A federal appeals court in Boston earlier this year also found it unconstitutional.

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled back in May that the law barring federal recognition of gay and lesbian couples unconstitutionally discriminates against homosexual couples because it denies them federal benefits. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested last month that the high court would likely rule on the constitutionality of the law within the year.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.

Congress passed DOMA in 1996 when Hawaii seemed close to legalizing gay marriage. The law effectively halted the movement at the time, but eight states have legalized it since and the issue will likewise appear on a handful of state ballots this November.