TACOMA — A judge in Tacoma has backed the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a "legal union between one man and one woman."
The decision, made public Tuesday, is the first to address the constitutionality of the federal act, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996.
Two American women, Lee and Ann Kandu, were married in British Columbia and filed a joint bankruptcy petition in Tacoma a short time later. Their petition was opposed by the Justice Department on grounds that the federal marriage law prohibited it.
Federal bankruptcy Judge Paul B. Snyder found the bankruptcy code allows spouses to file joint petitions, but the marriage law specifies that "spouse" refers only to a person of the opposite sex.
Snyder found that gays and lesbians have no fundamental right to marriage and that the 1996 does not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution by allowing members of the opposite sex to wed but not members of the same sex.