The Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), saying that it amounted to the “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”
NBC News is reporting that the decision, handed down just minutes ago, was decided 5-4 with Justice Anthony Kennedy siding with liberal members of the court.
This means that the federal government must recognize any gay marriages that are deemed legal by the states. — 12 plus the District of Columbia.
DOMA helps to determine who is covered by more than 1,100 federal laws, programs and benefits, including Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights and family leave. Same-sex couples who are legally married in their states were not considered married in the eyes of the federal government, and were ineligible for the federal benefits that come with marriage.
This has now changed.
“DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others,” the ruling said.
Dissenting were Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Scalia, in his dissent, wrote: “We have no power to decide this case. And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation. The Court’s errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America.”
In a second gay rights case, the Supreme Court decided not to take up a challenge to Proposition 8, the California law that banned gay marriage in that state. That decision means that gay marriage will once again be legal in California.
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