A federal appeals court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act – Congress's key legislation to block gay marriage – as unconstitutional in a ruling that will propel the issue to the supreme court. The Boston-based first district appeals court upheld a lower court decision that gay marriage is a matter for individual states to decide and that the federal government does not have the authority to deny recognition of same-sex unions. It is the highest court to date to strike down the 1996 act, known as Doma, which denies gay married couples federal benefits and protections given to heterosexuals such as health coverage, social security payments and medical leave. A host of states have passed their own bans...
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