Today was D-Day for the Defense of Marriage Act, the law that bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages even when they are legalized in individual states. The Supreme Court has officially ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional by a 5-4 vote.
The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, and prevented same-sex couples from receiving hundreds of benefits afforded to other married couples under federal law.
Even if same-sex couples were married and recognized in their home states, the federal law prevented them from truly holding the equal marriage rights that heterosexual couples enjoy.
DOMA continued through the Bush administration and well into the current Obama administration, with the Obama Justice Department initially backing the law even though President Obama later expressed a desire to see it repealed.
The Justice Department finally changed course in 2011, calling the law unconstitutional and saying that they would not defend it any more. House Republicans have been the last group really defending DOMA in recent years.
The latest round of DOMA controversy was kicked-off by 84-year-old Edie Windsor, who filed a lawsuit against the federal government after the IRS denied her refund request of $363,000 in federal estate taxes she paid after her spouse died in 2009.
This led to oral arguments in March, with a majority of the court expressing doubts over DOMA’s constitutionality. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the time opined that DOMA supporters seem to want “two types of marriage,” and called civil unions for same-sex couples “skim milk.”
This is a breaking story, and we will have more on it as the day moves along.
Are you surprised that the Supreme Court has ruled DOMA unconstitutional?
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