Two Historic Wins for Same-Sex Marriage

same-sex marriage is a go

A big victory for same-sex marriage: the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage.

It was a close one – the court’s voted 5-4 that the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, denied equal protection to same-sex couples. DOMA, defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of deciding who can receive a range of federal benefits. Back in the day DOMA sailed through Congress and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the year of his re-election – a decision he now whole-heartedly regrets.

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority decision, explaining that DOMA is an unconstitutional deprivation of equal liberty and a violation of the Fifth Amendment. Which means the dissenting judges – Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito – are bigots…?

Justice Scalia had this to say in the dissent:

“In my view a perfectly valid justification for this statute is contained in its title: the Defense of Marriage Act.”

“We have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation”.

Not like the Voting Rights Act you struck down yesterday… that was totally different.

But enough about Scalia – on to the good stuff: Overturning Doma means that legally married gay men and women are entitled to claim the same federal benefits available to opposite-sex married couples. However, gay marriage is only legal in 12 states (and the District of Columbia!) so the ruling only applies to them at this time. More than 30 states currently ban same-sex marriage but with opinion polls showing most Americans support gay marriage, it’s only a matter of time.

Stay tuned: the court has yet to release its decision on California’s ban on same-sex marriage. California went through a brief gay marriage phase in 2008 after the California Supreme Court struck down a state code provision prohibiting gay unions. But then California voters passed Proposition 8, effectively writing a gay marriage ban into the state constitution. 18,000 couples were married in California during this period.  Oh wait… the ruling just came in as I was typing… California’s Prop 8 has been dismissed!


The court ruled that opponents of same-sex marriage did not have standing to appeal a lower-court ruling that overturned California’s ban, effectively removing all legal obstacles to same-sex marriage in the state.  Translation: gay marriage for all!! (of California…)

Via: BBC News

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