Reform, ADL, NCJW, Rabbis for Human Rights praise DOMA loss in court


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Reform movement, the Anti-Defamation League, the National Council of Jewish Women and Rabbis for Human Rights-North America welcomed a court decision ruling unconstitutional an application of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a lower court’s ruling that denying gay couples federal benefits accorded to straight couples was unconstitutional. 

“We commend the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision striking down the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act’s provisions denying federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples,” Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said in a press statement. “Today’s decision is a vital, overdue, and very welcome step toward marriage equality and a more just society.”

NCJW said it was "proud" to have filed a friend of the court brief in the case.

"Under DOMA, same-sex married couples are denied the advantage of more than 1100 federal protections and responsibilities extended to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint income tax returns, to enjoy spousal benefits under social security, and to use the Family and Medical Leave Act, among many others," and NCJW statement said.

Rabbis for Human Rights-North America also issued a statement of praise for the 1st Circuit’s decision. 

“While each rabbi or religious leader may determine the guidelines of religious marriage in his or her community, the state has an imperative to grant all citizens the rights that accompany civil marriage,” RHA-NA said.

In its statement, the ADL called the decision "a clear affirmation that the principle of equal treatment means that same-sex couples are entitled to all of the federal rights, protections and benefits of civil marriage."

The three-judge panel became the first federal appeals court to issue a ruling against the 1996 federal government ban on same-sex marriage. 

The decision comes two weeks after President Obama declared his support for the same-sex marriages following an earlier statement of support by Vice President Joe Biden on NBC’s Meet the Press. 

Conservative groups are likely to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Until that court decides whether to proceed, the decision remains inactive.

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