Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) welcomed today's ruling, by the three-judge 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Rep. Engel was one of only 67 House Members to vote against DOMA in 1996. Earlier this year, the first Appeals Court in Boston issued a similar ruling.
"I was proud back in 1996 to vote against DOMA. It was a huge mistake then, and it remains a huge mistake today. Last year I co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act of 2011, to repeal DOMA, I said that DOMA meddles with the laws passed by the states granting marriage rights to same-sex couples. We now have two federal Appeals Courts who agree. This ruling came with the support of a conservative judge who stated in the ruling that "homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public.' The court found that gays and lesbians are entitled to heightened protection from the courts, based on the history of discrimination the group has suffered. Hopefully, this ruling paves the way for the eventual nationwide repeal of this ill-conceived law.
"The House Republicans are doubling down on this mistake by spending over $1.5 million of taxpayer funds to defend this discriminatory law. They are very quick to cry "state's rights' when it comes to healthcare or education, but when it comes to discrimination they defend a lousy federal law. The federal government should not be in the business of discrimination and the suppression of benefits and rights. Passage of same-sex marriage laws in New York, Maryland and other states, along with President Obama's historic declaration of support, shows history is on the side of equality, rather than discrimination"
The ruling will not be enforced until the U.S. Supreme Court eventually decides the case.