In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Appeals Court Rules DOMA Unconstitutional

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Newscom

While acknowledging that "many Americans believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman," the court ruled that one of the virtues of federalism is that "it permits this diversity of governance based on local choice." Congress' denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts, the court said, "has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest."

The Obama administration decided last February that it would no longer defend DOMA because a review found that Section 3 of the law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional. President Barack Obama officially backed a measure to repeal the law last summer and endorsed gay marriage earlier this month.

Several federal courts, including in California have also found DOMA unconstitutional. Thursday's appeals court ruling upheld the decision of a lower court in July 2010.

Two of the three judges on the panel were appointed by Republican presidents.

Read the decision:

DOMA Federal Appeals Court Decision