The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Boston, Mass., May 31 ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional as it discriminates against same-sex couples.

In particular, the three-judge appeals panel struck down the 1996 federal law that denied tax, Social Security or any other federal benefits due to gay couples who are legally married in their home states.

“To conclude, many Americans believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and most Americans live in states where that is the law today,” the judges wrote in their opinion. “One virtue of federalism is that it permits this diversity of governance based on local choice… Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest.”

The matter will now be forwarded to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reaction to the decision has varied. The Obama administration, recently bolstered by the President’s support of same-sex marriage, agrees with the court’s ruling.

“The President has concluded that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at press briefing on May 31. “So has his Attorney General. And for that reason, the administration will no longer defend equal protection challenges against it in the courts.

“But there’s no question that this is in concert with the President’s views,” he continued.

Conservative groups are not pleased with the ruling. The Family Research Council (FRC) criticized the ruling saying it’s confident that the Supreme Court will uphold DOMA in full.

“Citizens in 32 states have voted to uphold the historic and natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” FRC President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “Thirty states have actually inserted such a definition into the text of their state constitutions. It was completely appropriate for the Congress to anticipate this approval of marriage between a man and a woman and enact a congruent federal definition.”