Brooklyn elected officials celebrated a federal court decision Thursday declaring a law defining marriage as a union between a man and woman as unconstitutional.
"Today I applaud the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for upholding the ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and by doing so reaffirming what Brooklyn and New York City has already said loudly and clearly: love is love," said Borough President Marty Markowitz in a statement.
The 2-to-1 decision cited the gay population's "history of discrimination" in a ruling that continues—but by no means ends—a long battle against the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Supporters of gay marriage in New York hailed the ruling as a critical step towards overturning the law, which was enacted during the Clinton Administration as an attempt to head off same-sex unions.
Since Congress passed DOMA in 1996, six states—including New York—and the District of Columbia have made gay marriage legal.
"Today’s ruling is another step forward in our nation’s ongoing march toward justice and equality," said Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, D-Brooklyn. "The court’s decision recognizes that DOMA runs afoul of the Equal Protection clause and is fundamentally unfair. Now, all of us must continue the fight to see the rest of this discriminatory statute overturned or repealed.”
Despite New York's recognition of gay marriage, DOMA bars same-sex couples from receiving most federal benefits.
Thursday's ruling came from a case brought by Edith Windsor, a woman who was forced to pay more than $350,000 in federal estate taxes because the U.S. government did not recognize her union to her partner, Thea Spyer.
The couple was married in Canada in 2007 and were together for 44 years.