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Court's DOMA Ruling Draws Praise, Criticism In Mass.

In this 2009 file photo, members of the LGBT community protest the Defense of Marriage Act outside a Democratic fundraiser in Boston. (AP)
In this 2009 file photo, members of the LGBT community protest the Defense of Marriage Act outside a Democratic fundraiser in Boston. (AP)

Gay rights advocates in Massachusetts are cheering Thursday's appeals court ruling that parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act are unconstitutional, while gay marriage opponents in the state say they're disappointed but not surprised by the court's stance.

"I'm thrilled. It's a fantastic ruling," said Lee Swislow, of the Boston-based group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which brought one of the lawsuits on behalf of gay married couples. "And it's incredible that a court has said that you can't treat same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples — that we're all married in the eyes of the law."

Attorney General Martha Coakley, who filed the first complaint alleging that DOMA is unconstitutional in 2009, also praised Thursday's ruling.

"This is a matter of fairness, equality and respect for the dignity of human beings," she said, "and the recognition that Massachusetts has already given those relationships in our state."

However Kris Mineau, the director of the Massachusetts Family Institute, told our Newscast unit that he's disappointed but not surprised by the decision.

"All the courts in Massachusetts seem to have subscribed to Judge Margaret Marshall's redefinition of marriage, and delinking marriage from the procreation of children and their nurturing," he said.

(Former Chief Justice Marshall led the state's highest court when it approved same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2003.)

Mineau said he's confident the U.S. Supreme Court, which is all but certain to take up the issue, will uphold the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Another opponent of gay marriage, Brian Camenker, the director of MassResistance, told Newscast that 25 years ago, no one would have believed that Thursday's ruling was possible.

"The concept, up until very recently, was that weird; it was considered that lunatic," Camenker said. "And it sort of shows not only where society has gone, but where the legal system has gone, and it's very sad."

Radio Boston is also discussing the ruling Thursday, with the audio available after the show.

This program aired on May 31, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Benjamin Swasey Twitter Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital manager. He occasionally reports on economic and transportation policy, climate and social issues, and politics.


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