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A U.S. district judge in Boston, Massachusetts declared Thursday in two separate rulings that a nation-wide ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it prohibits individual states from defining what marriage is and is not.
In one decision, U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro, according to a breaking Associated Press report, “said the act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens.”
Obama administration attorneys had argued that in administering federal benefits, the federal government has the right to require marriages are between a man and a woman. That case is Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, which was litigated by attorneys for the Boston-based rights group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
In another decision also issued Thursday, Judge Tauro noted that the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996 during the Clinton administration, violated protections inherent to the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.
“The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment,” he ruled, according to the AP. “For that reason, the statute is invalid.”
That ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who contended that legally married gay couples in Massachusetts had been unjustly denied federal benefits.