Another Front in the Battle Over Same Sex Marriage: Court Strikes Down Part of DOMA

A federal judge in San Francisco has found that a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White, appointed by George W. Bush, ruled against a provision that allowed the government to deny benefits to a court workers’ same-sex spouse.

White wrote, “Prejudice, we are beginning to understand, rises not from malice or hostile animus alone. It may result as well from insensitivity caused by simple want of careful, rational reflection or from some instinctive mechanism to guard against people who appear to be different in some respects from ourselves.” (via MetroWeekly).

A federal judge in Massachusetts also found a key portion of DOMA unconstitutional in 2010, and the case is pending before the First Circuit Court of Appeals. The Obama administration announced last year that it would not defend the law, but conservatives in Congress have mounted their own defense.

Late Tuesday, proponents of California’s Proposition 8 asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the recent appellate decision en banc, meaning that an 11-judge panel would review the constitutionality of the same-sex marriage ban instead of the three judges who issued a decision earlier this month. The result: It could be quite a while before the case comes before the Supreme Court, and there’s a chance the Massachusetts DOMA case could come first.