The First Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act, that Clinton-era relic designed to defend the institution of marriage against gays like a football team defends the end zone (if the gays get into the marriage zone, game over for straights!), is unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates same sex couples' right to equal treatment under the law. But chill out, jubilant gays, gay supporters, and wedding industrial complex employees with eyeballs that have just transformed into cartoon dollar signs: the battle's not won yet — this will probably go all the way to the Supreme Court.
DOMA wasn't designed to restrict individual states' rights to govern marriage as they saw fit; rather, it prevented same sex couples from enjoying marital benefits on the federal level by formally defining marriage as between one man and one woman. It also excused states that did not recognize gay marriage from honoring the marital contracts of same sex couples wed in other states. Under DOMA, same sex couples were barred from filing joint tax returns, from including each other on government sponsored insurance, and from receiving each other's Social Security survivor benefits. Gay couples were, to use the proper legal terminology, getting hosed.
Defenders of DOMA argued that it was in the government's best interest to promote heterosexual marriage because traditional heterosexual marriage is the backbone of this country, goddamn it. They also argued that if we start giving benefits to same sex couples, they'll drive the government out of house and home. Equality is too expensive!
The First Circuit agreed, arguing that "But... tradition!" is a pretty shitty way to justify denying people equal rights. Judge Michael Boudin, one of three judges on the panel behind the unanimous ruling, wrote,
DOMA does not … explain how denying benefits to same-sex couples will reinforce heterosexual marriage [...] This is not merely a matter of poor fit of remedy to perceived problem, but a lack of any demonstrated connection between DOMA's treatment of same-sex couples and its asserted goal of strengthening the bonds and benefits to society of heterosexual marriage.
So there you have it. Gay marriage most definitely does not somehow threaten straight marriage, according to the First Circuit US Court of Appeals. Guess this means that now, we can finally getting around to erecting a missile defense system in order to protect marriage against the real enemy: Vladimir Putin.