NEW YORK, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A U.S. appeals court in New York ruled Thursday the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection clause.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the second federal appeals court to rule the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal recognition, and federal benefits, for married same-sex couples, CNN reported. The law -- enacted in 1996 during the Clinton administration -- forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states where such marriages are legal and says other states cannot be compelled to recognize those marriages as valid.
"Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public," Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote in the ruling on a lawsuit brought by Edith Windsor, 82, a lesbian who challenged the federal government's decision to deny her a spousal deduction and charge her more than $363,000 in estate taxes, CNN reported.
A U.S. appeals court panel in Boston ruled in May the Defense of Marriage Act cannot affect gay marriages in states that permit them.
The ruling effectively negates DOMA, but Circuit Judge Michael Boudin, writing for the three-judge panel, acknowledged the case eventually will go to the U.S. Supreme Court and stayed the panel's ruling until the Supreme Court gets a chance to look at it.