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.
Bryant — appointed to the bench by President George W, Bush on April 2, 2007 — found that laws that classify people based on sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny by courts — as the Department of Justice and plaintiffs argued in the case — but found the provision of the 1996 law unconstitutional "even under the most deferential level of judicial scrutiny."
The House Republican leadership had defended the law's constitutionality in court, through its 3-2 majority on the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group. The group has been defending the law since the Obama administration stopped defending the law in February 2011.
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