Connecticut Judge Rules DOMA Unconstitutional


A Connecticut federal court has added yet another ruling striking down DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, and determined the law is unconstitutional on the basis of two standards of review.

U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa L. Bryant today held in a federal case in Connecticut that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act — the federal definition of marriage — is unconstitutional.

Bryant, in a case brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, follows several other federal judges over the past two years to have reached the same conclusion. Federal judges in Massachusetts, California, and New York also have found DOMA’s provision defining “marriage” and “spouse” as only being unions of one man and one woman in all federal laws unconstitutional, as well as one federal appeals court.

Bryant, who was appointed to the bench by President George W, Bush in 2007, found that laws that classify people based on sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny by courts, but eventually found the provision of the 1996 law unconstitutional “even under the most deferential level of judicial scrutiny.”

In her decision in the case, Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, Bryant found, as first reported by Buzzfeed:

Having considered all four factors, this Court finds that homosexuals display all the traditional indicia of suspectness and therefore statutory classifications based on sexual orientation are entitled to a heightened form of judicial scrutiny.

However, the Court need not apply a form of heightened scrutiny in the instant case to conclude that DOMA violates the promise of the equal protection as it is clear that DOMA fails to pass constitutional muster under even the most deferential level of judicial scrutiny.

She later concluded:

In sum, having considered the purported rational bases proffered by both BLAG and Congress and concluded that such objectives bear no rational relationship to Section 3 of DOMA as a legislative scheme, the Court finds that no conceivable rational basis exists for the provision. The provision therefore violates the equal protection principles incorporated in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The plaintiffs in the case are five couples and a widower from Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire who have been denied the federal benefits, including benefits afforded to the spouses of federal employees. The lead plaintiff is Joanne Pedersen, who retired from a civilian position within the Department of the Navy after 30 years and is seeking health benefits for her spouse, Ann Meitzen.

The Washington Blade reports that Pedersen is “thrilled” the court ruled her marriage should be respected by the federal government just as it is in her home state of Connecticut, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2008.

“I loved working for the Navy for many years, and now that I am retired I now just want to care for my wife and make sure we can enjoy some happy and healthy years together,” Pedersen said. “DOMA has prevented us from doing that.”

The ruling comes as the Supreme Court is facing requests in several cases to decide the question of DOMA’s constitutionality once and for all. Several courts at various levels have made rulings against DOMA. The tally now stands at five district courts, one appeals court and one bankruptcy court. In addition, a number of parties both for and against DOMA have asked the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of DOMA.

Hooray for U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa L. Bryant!

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Photo Credit: ManHattanMini


Darlene Tipton
Darlene Tipton5 years ago

People need to be regarded as human beings first, last and always. You should ALWAYS treat people as you would like to be treated. Don't judge until you know someone. Besides, God does NOT make mistakes. All people are just what God meant them to be. They are lessons for us to learn and grow in God's love and to extend that same love to others. Domestic unions - mixed or same sex - need to be treated as sacred. They are/have pledged themselves to each other "in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, to love and to honor" hopefully up to the part of "till death due they part". DOMA is ridiculous and unconstitutional.

Michele Mihlack
Michele Mihlack5 years ago

DOMA is very unconstitutional, who has the right to tell others whom they can or cannot marry?

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

Equal rights are for EVERYONE!

You shouldn't be able to pick and choose which rights are for which group.........

Bob W.
Bob W5 years ago

This is good news. I do not get why some feel they have the right to tell others how to live.

As long as everyone involved is a consenting adult, it is only the business of those involved.

Magyar Girl
Past Member 5 years ago

Gay people have the right to have a miserable marriage, just as any straight person would.

Michael M.
Michael M5 years ago

Has anyone else noticed the loudest screamers against gay marriage are the biggest experts in gay sex?

tiffany t.
tiffany t5 years ago

I support equal rights

Michael T.
Michael T5 years ago

Mitchell I found this the other day

The No Child Left Behind legislation was proposed by President George W. Bush on January 23, 2001. It was coauthored by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH),

Mitchell D.
Mitchell D5 years ago

Carl O. is on the money!
Boehner and Cantor have shown , many too many times, that they are not capable of governing, just pushing agenda.

Carl Oerke
Carl O5 years ago

Everyone with half a mind knows that DOMA is unconstitutional. Yet Boehner and Cantor leaders of the know nothing do nothing worst Congress our country has ever seen are still defending it. It is time to Dump Boehner and Can Cantor.