By FoxNews.com

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday against a central provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, a groundbreaking decision that tees up a potential battle before the Supreme Court.

The three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled that the provision

defining marriage as between a man and woman is unconstitutional in that it denies gay couples the rights granted to heterosexual couples.

The unanimous decision once again brings the issue of gay marriage to the fore of the nation's political debate. It comes just a few weeks after President Obama announced his support for gay marriage -- in the wake of that announcement, some gay advocacy groups have stepped up pressure on Washington to fight DOMA.

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