Gay pop star Lance Bass and singer Nancy Sinatra have hailed U.S. appeals court officials in Boston, Massachusetts for declaring the controversial Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
The federal law, which came into effect in 1996, defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and claims that same-sex marriages would not be recognised by federal authorities, even in U.S. states where gay unions have been made legal.
The bill has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as eight of the 50 states have since seen gay unions legalised, including Massachusetts.
However, the Defense of Marriage Act suffered a blow on Thursday (31May12) when a three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made a groundbreaking ruling and unanimously decided that denying married gay couples the same federal benefits given to heterosexual couples was discrimination and therefore illegal.
The ruling has been celebrated by a handful of celebrities and former 'N Sync star Bass took to Twitter.com to exclaim, "another great step for equality!"
Frank Sinatra's daughter Nancy writes, "This is America, 'with liberty and justice for all.' That includes equal rights for women and same sex couples", while Moby tweets: "congratulations! Federal court in Boston rules Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional" and actor and former White House staffer Kal Penn simply posts, "Niiiiiiiice (sic)."