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It's anticipated that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the hotly-contested fate of the 1996 law.
A federal appeals court in New York state on Thursday struck down the controversial Defense of Marriage Act, the law that bars same-sex marriage at the federal level.
The two-to-one court opinion, available on the CNN website, ruled in favor of 83-year-old Edith Windsor, finding DOMA to be in violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution because it extends different benefits to couples of the opposite sex than to those of the same sex. This is the second time a federal appeals court has declared the law unconstitutional, CNN said.
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"Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public," Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote for the majority in the court ruling.
It's anticipated that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the hotly-contested fate of the 1996 law, the Associated Press reported.
Reuters reported that there are several appeals cases about the law awaiting Supreme Court review. In 2011, the Obama administration said it believes the law is unconstitutional.
One of the three judges deciding the New York appeal, Chester Straub, disagreed with the majority finding, saying marriage should not be defined in the courts but through direct political participation.
"If this understanding is to be changed, I believe it is for the American people to do so," Straub wrote, according to Reuters.