By Jonathan Easley - 06/26/13 02:53 PM EDT
Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who was the first openly gay member of Congress, praised the Supreme Court on Wednesday for striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.
“We, as a class, are entitled to this,” Frank said. “It is very, very important, both specifically for a lot of hard working people who pay their taxes to now get full benefits, and it’s one more step towards doing what I think is the most important Constitutional mandate we have.”
“This really is classic equal protection jurisprudence, so the surprise is not that five justices found for it,” Frank told MSNBC. “It’s that four justices that still want to make those of us that are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender an exception to traditional jurisprudence.”
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court overturned a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that bars same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits.
The court did not issue a ruling on California’s Proposition 8, essentially leaving it up to the states for now to decide whether to allow gay marriages.
Frank said the ruling represents progress for the country.
“Our Constitution set forth a number of very important, very radical principles for the time, but it excluded a lot of people from the benefit of those rights,” Frank said.
“We’ve had a series of efforts in our country to make sure the people who were originally excluded are included in all those wonderful phrases of the Declaration of Independence and the binding clauses of the Constitution, and for those of us gay and lesbian, it’s a major step towards getting there.”