The US First Circuit Court of Appeals has dealt another blow is favor of same sex marriage by uninanimously ruling that the infamous Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.
While it did not declare that there was an absolute right under the US constitution for same sex couples to marry, and it recognized the rights of each state to decide what constituted marriage, it ruled that if a given state recognized the marriage of same sex couples, then the federal government did not have the right to deny them the same federal rights and benefits that opposite sex couples in those states enjoyed. This seems eminently commonsensical.
Although the ruling was rather narrow, it is still significant. The problem for the opponents of equal rights for same sex couples is that once some states recognize the rights of same sex couples, the contradictions in their position become exposed. The only consistent argument they have is a religious one that says it must be so because their holy book says so, and legally that is a loser straight off the bat. The closest historical parallel I can think of is the ban on inter-racial marriage.
The US Supreme Court will get its chance to weigh in on this issue within the year. Given that there are six Catholics on that body (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Kennedy, and Sotomayor) it will be interesting to see how that turns out. How far will they be willing to go to appease their church, since you can be sure that the Catholic Church will be going on the warpath over this? The remaining three court members are Jews (Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan) and seemingly of a more moderate-secular bent. None of them (as far as I know) is Orthodox and so are unlikely to want to twist the interpretation of the constitution to accommodate nakedly religious motivations that are not of their own tradition.
Will this case turn out to be the equivalent of the Virginia v. Loving verdict of 1967 that ended all race-based restrictions on legal marriage for good? I hope so.