Washington, DC -- Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) welcomed today’s unanimous ruling, by the three-judge 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.  Rep. Engel was one of only 67 House Members to vote against DOMA in 1996.

“When I co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act of 2011, which repeals DOMA, I said that DOMA meddles with the laws passed by the states granting marriage rights to same-sex couples, and may not be constitutional.  Hopefully, this ruling in Boston paves the way for the eventual nationwide repeal of this ill-conceived law.

“I was proud back in 1996 to vote against DOMA.  It was a huge mistake then, and it remains a huge mistake today. 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, coupled with President Obama’s recent declaration of support, shows history is on the side of equality, rather than discrimination.  Same-sex couples work hard and pay their taxes; they contribute to charity and raise their family as best as they can.  They are our friends, family and neighbors, and should never be treated differently.”

The Boston court ruled that DOMA’s definition of marriage as being that between a man and woman discriminates against same-sex couples because it fails to grant the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples.  The ruling will not be enforced until the U.S. Supreme Court eventually decides the case.