A federal judge in Hartford has ruled that denying federal benefits to same-sex spouses under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, an opinion praised and supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.
Judge Vanessa Bryant, ruling in Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, found that "no conceivable rational basis exists" for the section of DOMA that defines marriage to include only heterosexual couples.
Sandra Staub, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut, noted that the ruling is one of the most forceful in a series of judicial opinions to strike down pieces of the controversial law. "This is a remarkable decision because Judge Bryant essentially found that DOMA is an irrational piece of legislation," she said.
The lawsuit was brought by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) on behalf of six same-sex couples and a widower who were married in Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire but denied federal benefits under DOMA. The lead plaintiff, Joanne Pedersen of Waterford, a retired civilian employee of the Navy, was denied health benefits for her wife, Ann Meitzer, because they are both women.
Judge Bryant's decision will almost certainly be appealed to the Second Circuit and may ultimately be reviewed, along with the other opinions invalidating DOMA, by the Supreme Court.
"Connecticut has been proudly at the forefront of same-sex marriage in the United States and of the movement to overturn DOMA," said Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut. "Judge Bryant's decision brings us closer to that goal and to our nation's ideals of equality, fairness and freedom."
Connecticut Law Tribune: Connecticut Judge Says DOMA Is Unconstitutional
Hartford Courant: Federal Judge Rules DOMA's Definition Of Marriage Is Unconstitutional
Huffington Post: DOMA Ruled Unconstitutional in Connecticut Case Pedersen v. OPM