An important milestone in the fight for marriage equality was achieved today when a federal appeals court in Manhattan declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. The conservative judge who authored the ruling went one step farther by stating any law that discriminates against gays and lesbians should be viewed with skepticism.
This is a really big deal. Jacobs is not simply saying that DOMA imposes unique and unconstitutional burdens on gay couples, he is saying that any attempt by government to discriminate against gay people must have an “exceedingly persuasive” justification. This is the same very skeptical standard afforded to laws that discriminate against women. If Jacobs’ reasoning is adopted by the Supreme Court, it will be a sweeping victory for gay rights, likely causing state discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to be virtually eliminated. And the fact that this decision came from such a conservative judge makes it all the more likely that DOMA will ultimately be struck down by the Supreme Court.