A federal judge in Connecticut has ruled that part of a federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman and denies federal benefits to married gay couples is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford ruled Tuesday that the provision in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act violates the Fifth Amendment right to equal protection.
The ruling came in the case of six married same-sex couples and a widower who sued after being denied federal benefits. The plaintiffs are from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Gay rights advocates applauded the ruling but expected an appeal.
Several similar rulings have been made by courts across the country. The Obama administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to settle legal fights over the law.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press