Ian Millhiser sees the advantage of today's limited ruling:
Boudin goes to great pains to deny that a law that systematically excludes gay couples from the dignity of full marriage rights is motivated by “hostility to homosexuality.” … Ultimately, however, Boudin’s opinion is a cause for optimism. The last federal appeals judge to strike a blow for marriage equality, Judge Stephen Reinhardt, is a well-known liberal crusader with little influence over the conservative justices. Boudin, by contrast, is a Republican appointee who’s clearly still uncomfortable with Constitution’s promise of equality throughout America. And yet he just published an opinion striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. This bodes well for gay couples when DOMA comes before the Supreme Court.
Scott Lemieux makes a similar argument:
Like Judge Reinhardt's opinion ruling Proposition 8 unconstitutional, Boudin's opinion tries to work within the framework of existing Supreme Court precedent rather than pushing the envelope. But this is more likely to appeal to a Supreme Court with a conservative median vote, and the fact that it comes from a respected Republican jurist is even more promising. The chances of DOMA surviving its date with the Supreme Court have just gotten worse, and for people who care about justice and equality this is unequivocally good news.
Lyle Denniston unpacks the ruling:
While some federalism arguments do not work against DOMA, the Circuit Court found, the argument that did work was that Section 3 puts a burden on states like Massachusetts in the way they choose to regulate “the rules and incidents of marriage.” DOMA would put added administrative responsibilities on the state, and would cut federal funding for some state programs, it commented. “Congress’ effort to put a thumb on the scales and influence a state’s decision as to how to shape its own marriage laws does bear on how the justfications are assessed,” it said.
So does Andrew Cohen:
The ruling: 1) narrows the scope of the trial judge's decision which preceded it; 2) offers the Supreme Court several avenues of precedential escape should the justices subsequently wish to use them; 3) takes a broader view of federalism as it relates to this law and its impact upon state marriage laws, and; 4) is notably diplomatic in its brief assessment of the "work" Congress did in passing the statute.
Dan Savage imagines a migration of gays away from anti-equality states:
You would think that opponents of marriage equality in states like, say, North Carolina (which recently passed an anti-gay marriage amendment to its state constitution), or Kansas (where loving Christian ministers are calling on the federal government to execute gay men and lesbians), would be delighted at the prospect of a DOMA stripped of Section Three. A Section-Three-free DOMA would create a huge incentive for same-sex couples to leave shitholes like Kansas and Mississippi for saner places like Massachusetts, New York, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Washington D.C.—and soon (fingers crossed) Washington state, Maine, and Maryland.
And Ari Ezra Waldman celebrates:
Today's victory brings us one step closer to the final end of DOMA, something the First Circuit admits will have to be left to the Supreme Court. It also shows us the impact that every gay rights decision has on each other, from Gill to Cook to Perry. Each victory bleeds into other areas, breeding victory upon victory.
(Photo: by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)