Courts
9:15 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Supreme Court Strikes Down Defense Of Marriage Act

In a highly anticipated ruling, the Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes such as Social Security survivors' benefits, insurance benefits, immigration and tax filing.

Section 3 of the law defines marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" and a spouse as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." That provision had been struck down by eight lower courts before the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in United States v. Windsor.

This decision means that legally married same-sex couples are now entitled to the same federal benefits as married opposite sex couples.

The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito dissented.

We're still waiting on another major decision that concerns California's ban on same-sex marriage.