Defense of Marriage Act to Be Overturned? and More Recent News on Gay Marriage

There’s exciting news on the Defense of Marriage Act — and the possibility of it being overturned — we wanted to make sure you were aware.

There’s a good story here and the original brief here, both in the Los Angeles Times, details yesterday’s potentially landmark decision. From the lead of today’s article:

“Brad Levenson and Tony Sears spent Thursday fielding congratulatory calls from gay rights supporters around the nation for their success in getting a federal judge to call into question the legality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this week that Sears — who married Levenson, a deputy federal public defender, last July — is entitled to the same spousal benefits that heterosexual couples employed by the department receive.”

Though the ruling is not final, it potentially paves the way for the 1996 rule to be struck down in federal court for not meeting the Constitutionality test.

We’ve also run across a couple of other interesting updates on anti-gay marriage legislation over the last couple of weeks we wanted to share.

First, in California, Proposition 8 is awaiting a March 5 hearing in the California Supreme Court, to determine whether or not the recently-passed ban on gay marriage is constitutional. This Los Angeles Times story gives a good overview as to what might happen in the hearing, as well as what might happen to the couples who were married during the period in which LGBT couples were legally allowed to marry.

One of our favorite reporters, the Associated Press’s Lisa Leff, wrote this story, noting that if Proposition 8 is upheld, a proposition to overturn it could be voted on in California as early as 2010. While some gay rights advocates are concerned that its defeat could be seen as further reinforcement for LGBT discrimination, others feel that it should be put to the voters again, to allow Californians to stand up for LGBT equality.

And in Ohio, where anti-gay marriage legislation has been in effect since 2004, one church, as detailed in this story, has decided not to sign marriage licenses for straight couples until gay marriage is legal in the state, joining a growing number of churches making the same civil rights stand.

We believe that 2009 is going to be a crucial year in the fight for LGBT equality. Now more than ever, it’s important for straight allies to speak up for LGBT equality. While the continuing court debate on DOMA and the upcoming hearing on Proposition 8 will help us gauge where the courts are on discriminatory legislation, it’s up to us to help the nation gauge the importance of achieving LGBT equality, starting with this fundamental right to marry.

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