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6/26/2013 7:16:00 AM
Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, says Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a major victory for gay rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.

The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits.

President Barack Obama praised the court's ruling on the federal marriage act, which he said "was discrimination enshrined in law."

"It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people," Obama said in a statement. "The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it."

The other high court decision was a technical legal ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court's declaration that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. That outcome probably will allow state officials to order the resumption of same-sex weddings in the nation's most populous state in about a month.

Obama telephoned his congratulations to the plaintiffs in the California case from Air Force One en route to Africa.

In a sign that neither victory was complete, the high court said nothing about the validity of gay marriage bans in California and roughly three dozen other states. And a separate provision of the federal marriage law that allows a state to not recognize a same-sex union from elsewhere remains in place.

The ruling in that case was not along ideological lines. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia.

"We have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit," Roberts said, referring to the federal appeals court that also struck down Proposition 8.

In the case involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, joined by the court's liberal justices.

"Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways," Kennedy said.

"DOMA's principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal," he said.

Some in the crowd outside the court hugged and others jumped up and down just after 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday when the DOMA decision was announced. Many people were on their cell phones monitoring Twitter, news sites and blogs for word of the decision. And there were cheers as runners came down the steps with the decision in hand and turned them over to reporters who quickly flipped through the decisions.

Chants of "Thank you" and "USA" came from the crowd as plaintiffs in the cases descended the court's marbled steps. Most of those in the crowd appeared to support gay marriage, although there was at least one man who held a sign promoting marriage as between a man and a woman.

Kennedy was joined in the DOMA decision by the court's four liberal justices.

Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, and Scalia dissented.

Same-sex marriage has been adopted by 12 states and the District of Columbia. Another 18,000 couples were married in California during a brief period when same-sex unions were legal there.

The outcome is clear for people who were married and live in states that allow same-sex marriage. They now are eligible for federal benefits.

The picture is more complicated for same-sex couples who traveled to another state to get married, or who have moved from a gay marriage state since being wed.

Their eligibility depends on the benefits they are seeking. For instance, immigration law focuses on where people were married, not where they live. But eligibility for Social Security survivor benefits basically depends on where a couple is living when a spouse dies.

The rulings came 10 years to the day after the court's Lawrence v. Texas decision that struck down state bans on gay sex. In his dissent at the time, Scalia predicted the ruling would lead to same-sex marriage.

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Related Links:
• Supreme Court's DOMA decision


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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Article comment by: Nice Chuckle

@Chuck

"What they article and all the hype overlooks is that a Democrat signed DOMA into law. Yep, Bill Clinton. Shame on you Bill. Short memories??"

Had you done a little more research, you would have found that it passed through a Republican controlled Congress with enough majority to over ride a veto. Darn those pesky facts.


Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Article comment by: the court MR.C.

Once more the Supreme court has spoken, not with one voice as some would have liked.

A signal, more controversial cases and decisions tend to awaits us, while the court remains divided.




Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Article comment by: chuck Baker

The Democratic Party Facebook posting expressed their elation at the demise of DOMA. As an independent I to am happy!

What they article and all the hype overlooks is that a Democrat signed DOMA into law. Yep, Bill Clinton. Shame on you Bill. Short memories??


Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Article comment by: A Straight Christian

Thank you Supreme Court. It's not about religion or politics, it's all about Equal Protection under the law! Giving dignity to each and every one of us EQUALLY.

Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Article comment by: Lost In America on the right wing

@ Linus
You said: The point I'm trying to make is that marriage is not a right, it is a privilege. If someone is gay or bisexual, then their selfish act is tearing apart the fabric of our society which has stood the test of time, the basic unit of civilization, - Mom and Pop - why should we support that?

Let us take it a step further. Life is not a right, it's a privilege.


Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Shadow

America has gone to hell in a hand basket. No wonder we're a mockery and man/woman marriage is no longer taken seriously. What next? Legalize pedophilia and beastiality? We're screwed.

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: Frances Perkins

The right wing GOP will do anything keep government regulations on private relationships Get the government out of my gun closet and into my bedroom. Get the guvment out of social security and into my nurturing organs. How about that MK!

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Linny

“If someone is gay or bisexual, then their selfish act is tearing apart the fabric of our society which has stood the test of time,…”

So divorce is not something that destroys the “fabric of our society?”

Just out of curiosity please explain two points – 1) why should gay Americans not be allowed to have the same rights as all other Americans? 2) How does someone’s gay marriage threaten your marriage in any way? And maybe deal with this one, why do you feel what others do with their genitalia is any of your business?




Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@ansons nephew

Why are you righties so against every American having the same rights?"

I dunno AN, why dont you ask Bill "I did not have sex with that woman" Clinton? After all, he was the president who signed it into law. Why would he have done that if he did not heartily support it?


Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Schmo

Yesterday was a bad day for voting rights in this country. Today is a good day for civil rights.

Hopefully one day our backward state will catch up with the 21st century and will no longer discriminate against people for who they love or who they may vote for.


Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: Neither Nor

@Anson's Nephew

Anson..you cannot reason with ultra-conservatives. They do not want anyone but themselves to reap the bennies that this Country has to offer. I have given up on them. I feel sorry for them. They will have to explain themselves to their Maker and I am not too sure he/she will see their side.


Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Blow

I fully support gay marriage!

If both members of this union are faithful to each other, it confirms Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection.


Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: L J

I see where Speaker Boehner is disappointed with the courts ruling.
When is the GOP going to get on the same page with majority of the American people as polls show?
Although pesonally I don't agree with the courts opionion
I do believe we all have the right to live as we want and not
As the government says!


Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: Linus Van Pelt

They got this absolutely correct. Everyone should have the same rights. This includes polygamous couples, incestuous couples, and people who want to marry inanimate objects. (Insert tongue in cheek). The point I'm trying to make is that marriage is not a right, it is a privilege. If someone is gay or bisexual, then their selfish act is tearing apart the fabric of our society which has stood the test of time, the basic unit of civilization, - Mom and Pop - why should we support that? Seems to me that people who help our society by providing a father and mother foundation should receive a privilege, and those who are calling a privilege a “right” are unknowingly undermining our society. This blanket approach to the gay marriage debate is what is frightening. Are we prepared for un-chartered societal waters?

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: and they all lived happily ever after .....in the fairy tales

some people think that God fulfilled His obligation to warn people from hell and nations from dissolution by providing His words. There is an eternity, believe it or not, respect it or not. And when you're there, there's no turning back. For all eternity.

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: AJ Legault

A step forward for everyone who has worked so vigilant for Equality!
A Very Good Day!


Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

DeeDee

Why are you righties so against every American having the same rights? tell us where in the Constitution it specifically states that gay people are not allowed the same rights as every other American? Please be accurate - thank you.


Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: Northern Star


THANK YOU to the Supreme Court.
About time though....


Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: F H

Equal protection under the law. Thanks, Supreme Court for moving this country toward that goal.

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: desert dweller

The supreme court is "unconstitutional anymore"!!



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