Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) issued the following statement regarding the decision by the Federal District Court in Boston ruling that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This section of the 1996 law denies federal benefits to legally married same sex couples. Rep. Engel was one of only 67 Member of Congress to vote against DOMA, and is an original co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act of 2009, which would repeal DOMA.
"I applaud the decision made in the Boston court. DOMA was a huge mistake in 1996 and remains one to this day. The federal government should never have been in the business of discrimination and the suppression of benefits and rights. Having this law struck down would be a victory for equal treatment under the law.
"When I co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act of 2009, I said that DOMA meddles with the laws passed by the states granting marriage rights to same-sex couples, and may not be constitutional. That position was confirmed by the Boston court and I am hopeful that the ruling will stand against any appeal.
"Same-sex couples, who married in those states which allow it, are the same as every other family in the nation. They work hard and pay their taxes, they contribute to charity and try to raise their family as best as they can. They are our friends, family and neighbors, and should never have been treated differently in the first place. This civil-rights issue should be treated as such, and the rights and privileges deserved by all Americans should be maintained."