Former President Bill Clinton regrets signing the Defense of Marriage Act, calling the law unconstitutional. Additionally Clinton has requested that the supreme court justices overturn the DOMA, as the law has led to the denial of federal benefits for same-sex couples.
Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, in 1996. Of 535 members of congress, the act was opposed by only 81. In 1996 same-sex marriage was illegal nationwide.
In section three the act defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The language of the act has been questioned as many states have approved gay marriage, but the definition has prevented federal recognition of same-sex unions.
This, according to Clinton’s article in the Washington Post, has limited benefits to same-sex couples whose marriages are recognized by nine states. Clinton specifically points out that married same-sex couples in those states have been denied filing joint tax returns, taking time off work under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and federal health and pension benefits.
Specifically, the Supreme Court justices will be examining the case of Edith Windsor. As reported by the Huffington Post, when Windsor’s wife Thea Spyer passed away in 2009 she received a bill for estate tax totaling over $360,000. Windsor, age 83, challenged the bill, which would have totaled $0 if she had been married to a man.
The Supreme Court will begin examining the case on March 27. Clinton, who regrets signing the DOMA, has asked that the justices consider overturning the law, which he has called both unconstitutional and discriminatory. Clinton stresses the fact that the US is “a nation that honors freedom, equality, and justice above all.”
At the same time The Supreme Court justices will examine California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. The proposition, which was approved by voters in 2008, is a statewide constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The ban was voted in, following a California Supreme Court ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry. On March 27 The Supreme Court justices are expected to decide whether equal protection under the constitution should exclude same-sex couples.
Although Clinton regrets signing the Defense of Marriage Act, he has publicly admitted his regret and has taken steps to get that message to The Supreme Court.