A U.S. appeals court in New York today ruled that a U.S. law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to lawfully married same-gender couples.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now the second federal appeals court to reject part of the Defense of Marriage Act. It upheld a lower court ruling that had found a central part of the law unconstitutional.
Appeals in several cases are currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which could choose to take up the issue in its current term.
Two members of a three-judge panel ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old woman who argued that the law discriminates against same-gender couples in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Six states have legalized same-gender marriage, including New York in 2011. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in 1996, federal law and government programs do not recognize those marriages.
Read a full report from REUTERS.