In Landmark Ruling, Supreme Court Strikes Down Defense of Marriage Act

The ruling caps one of the fastest civil rights shifts in the nation’s history

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Gay rights supporter Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag outside the U.S. Supreme Court building on June 26, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Seventeen years after a Democratic President signed a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down on Wednesday, capping one of the fastest civil rights shifts in the nation’s history.

In a landmark 5-4 decision, the Justices ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by bipartisan majorities and signed by President Bill Clinton, is an unconstitutional violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The court broke along familiar ideological lines, with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the majority opinion, joining his four more liberal counterparts. “DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment,” Kennedy wrote. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito filed separate dissents to the court’s decision. Scalia delivered a lengthy and scathing oral dissent in court after the decision was announced.

The offending section of the law, which sailed through Congress in 1996, restricted gay couples from receiving more than 1,000 benefits accorded to married couples, even if they were legally married in the states where they reside. In a forceful indictment of the law, Kennedy cited the contradictions between state and federal statutes as among the reasons for striking down the measure.

(COVER STORY: How Gay Marriage Won)

“By creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same state, DOMA forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law,” he wrote. “DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage. The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects … and whose relationship the state has sought to dignify. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.”

The case, Windsor v. United States, was filed by New York resident Edith Windsor, who was legally married in Canada to Thea Spyer. Upon Spyer’s death in 2009, Windsor was required to pay estate taxes on her inheritance — which she would not have been asked to do had she been married to a man.

“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,” Kennedy wrote. “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

In February 2011, the Obama Administration announced it would no longer defend the law in court. The decision spurred Speaker of the House John Boehner to appropriate funds from the House of Representatives budget to defend it before the Supreme Court.

In a separate 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California, ruling that those appealing to uphold the ban known as Proposition 8 did not have legal standing. The court’s technical ruling — that outside appellants don’t have standing to defend a law if the state declines to defend it — is narrowly tailored and avoids a ruling on the constitutionality of all same-sex-marriage bans.

Bedlam erupted at the court when news of the decisions trickled out. A huge crowd of gay-rights activists from around the country, gathered on the sidewalk in front of the court’s marble steps, cheered and chanted “DOMA is dead.” They twirled rainbow flags and broke out into an impromptu rendition of “America the Beautiful.” Across the street from the court, where a smaller cluster of anti-gay-marriage protesters was huddled, the reaction to the decisions was muted.

— With reporting by Miles Graham / Washington

817 comments
vdpphd
vdpphd

In answer to Justice Scalia's question. "so, when did gay marriage bans become unconstitutional?', it was with the ratification of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits States from denying persons equal treatment under the law.  The State sanctioned contract of marriage affords over 1,000 legal benefits to its participants.  The Bible and social convention do not allow us to disregard the Constitution in this matter.  As long as there was no law banning gay marriage, but no State allowing it either, there was no case.  Once the Right tried to enact formal legal bans, they ran up against precedent and the Constitution and created a class of parties with standing, i.e., those denied equal protection under the law by State law.   This whole matter was considered in a 60 page ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court, which ruled that under the First, Fourteenth, and other Amendments, it is unconstitutional to offer legal benefits to opposite sex married couples under Stat6e law and deny them to same sex couple.  The Constitution would have to be amended in at least three places, maybe more, before gay marriage bans could be made Constitutional.  Case closed.  It is all over but for the cases in States still with bans that overturn them too.   Alternatively, the State can eliminate all legal benefits offered to married couples that are denied to the unmarried, thus discarding centuries of accepted family law instead.  How do you like them apples?

Grendel007
Grendel007

I'm amazed you are so astute as to surmise that from my observation of your reply tendencies. You must be incredibly proud of yourself

handfree
handfree

i don't care what you queers and gay s and lezzys want i dont like it i don't condone it and i  don't support it  .its wrong and immoral . you will bring a plague on this country. and the president ,[if we had one ] should stop this dead in its tracks ..you are bringing this country down, . move to haiti i herd aids runs wild there ..maybe you can find you some help,,,

jpprotacio
jpprotacio

The decision 5-4 on the Supreme Court just perverted the Law of God and the Sanctity of Marriage. What goes around comes around. There are no actions without consequences.

ReformedII
ReformedII

I noticed that WRC in Washington DC said there is a tornado watch for the DC area.

 Doesn't happen very often does it?

 TORNADO WATCH ISSUED FOR THE DC AREA  & FOOLS do NOT get it! 

DavidPettinicchio
DavidPettinicchio

The intersection of cultural and institutional environments (whether supportive or obstructive) shapes social movement mobilization around marriage equality. This includes the extent to which movements have access to political elites, the extent to which LGBT groups mobilize resources, whether they have helped shift public opinion in favor of marriage equality or whether they are up against unfavorable public preferences (as might be the case in France). Another important contextual characteristic is countermovement mobilization. That is, how do pro-gay marriage activists contend with often powerful and resource-rich forces against gay marriage (as has been the case in the U.S., and, given anti-gay marriage protests beginning last year, France)?


Read More: http://mobilizingideas.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/cross-national-gay-marriage-politics-and-the-context-of-activism/


theamericansnc.com
theamericansnc.com

It's always useful to take a bit of an historical perspective on groundbreaking legislation..  There is more support for the equal rights of homosexuals in the United States in 2013 than there was for the equal rights of black Americans in 1860. As a result, those American citizens who stood up for their discriminated against fellow human beings the 19th century took an even a bigger risk than those of us who support gay rights today. Ironic, isn’t it? In 2013, only the most rabid, irrational, sociopath would publicly announce that they did not believe Americans of all races deserved equal rights. Two hundred years ago, in 1813, the same would be thought of any American coming out in full support of the Jeffersonian principle. 

theamericansnc.com


amsaric
amsaric

I don't think that hetero-marriages and homosexual unions should be considered the same because they are not, but some things ARE rights that both unions ought to have, like inheritance without taxes and whatnot. However, I do not believe that having children is a "right". I'm glad homosexual unions are getting more rights that they obviously should have already had, but equality does not include calling two things that aren't the same by the same name. We don't call oranges apples even though they are both fruit. They are different and deserve and ought to be called differently.

terryclifton1
terryclifton1

The real winners in this case are the divorce lawyers. For the record, I have no problem with gay marriage as long as it's decided by each individual state. 

RandyBrown
RandyBrown

5 % of the populace  demanding the rest of us acknowledge their perversity

bcmugger
bcmugger

So some communist judges say the will of the majority means nothing....maybe it is time for america to start over.

tcp5353
tcp5353

All the laws, TV shows and movies, and protests in the world won't change the FACT that the  97% of Earth's population who are heterosexual  have a natural, instinctive, and visceral REPULSION to the sight of homosexuals engaging in amorous behavior......

semusdunlop
semusdunlop

This was not a civil right shift. This was done dishonestly by lying politicians ans Supreme Court Justices, this was not the will of the people. What do we the people know know after all.

synergenetics
synergenetics

@jpprotacio God will simply have to launch another volley of tornadoes at Oklahoma again to show his disapproval. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ReformedII So then when the Bible states constantly get hit with weather relate disasters does that mean god is punishing you for you bigotry and ignorance?

CWalpole
CWalpole

@ReformedII I'm sorry. *I* don't get it? What does a slightly uncommon weather phenomenon have to do with DOMA? 

Come back when we have a swarm of locusts or fire raining from the skies and I'll pay attention to your nonsense.

outsider
outsider

@RandyBrown  

Yeah, but the teaparty keeps being courted by the GOP, so don't expect them to go away any time soon. 

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@bcmugger Because it is their job to be thinkers.  Judges are not elected for a reason.  And they have jobs forever for a reason.  They are not supposed to care one bit about what the majority wants.  Majority probably wants a lot of things that are not good ideas.  I for one would like to have hand grenades that I could throw at offensive drivers.  Now, suppose everyone liked that idea?  Think SCOTUS would find that an appropriate act?   And bcmugger, please enlighten us on who the commies are on the court, and what this decision has to do with communism?  I really want to hear, because, well, I know it is gonna be hilarious.

CWalpole
CWalpole

@bcmugger The majority of the people is in favor of gay marriage.... by about ten points, according to most polls....

outsider
outsider

@bcmugger  

I'd like you to justify calling the judges communists. Just because you didn't like their judgement? That's pretty immature. 

 

small_axe
small_axe

@bcmugger Would you please site any specific Article, or Section thereof in the United States Constitution, or any Amendments thereto which mentions God or church or any religion whatsoever with the single exception of the 1st Amendment's prohibition?

If you cannot, I'd like to know where you think you got the right to tell others what they can and can't do based SOLELY on your interpretation of your own religion.

small_axe
small_axe

@tcp5353 Perhaps that's true. As a heterosexual man, I can't describe in words how spectacularly and singularly beautiful I find a shapely woman's body to be. And equally in the opposite direction how much I don't want to see the crack of a man's behind.

But please tell me where in that I can find the right to tell other people, who have different tastes than my own, what they can and can't or should and shouldn't do?

I mean seriously, are you a child? My tastes aren't your tastes. And our tastes aren't others' tastes. We live in a pluralistic society, and each have, or ought to have, full and equal rights under the law.

No one is telling you what to like or dislike. Nor should you be telling anyone else what to like or dislike. Period. End of story.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@tcp5353 I have a natural, instinctive, and visceral REPULSION to peircings. So I guess people who have them shouldn't be able to marry either. 

TMA
TMA

@semusdunlop Most people in the US agree with letting same sex marriage pass, lying politicians are the ones trying to block it.

ReformedII
ReformedII

@synergenetics @jpprotacio  Actually, you "synergenetics" make it absolutely 100% certain that eventually God will destroy this country.  You can be absolutely certain something is coming, that will make the tornadoes of the past few years look like kindergarten recess. And all because of your attitude.  Nothing happens in a vacuum, there are always consequences to the attitude of a nation, and there is no such thing as a coincidence.

Would the extreme destruction have happened to us w/o 55 million children murdered o the acceptance of "men lying with men?   HELL no!  But folks like you will reduce this once "blessed" nation to that "good ole"  Biblical "pile of dung"  as Israel was reduced.

We do not deserve the blessings of the past.   

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@mantisdragon91 @ReformedII  If being punished by weather is a sign from God then the folks in Oklahoma must be the most soulless, wretched, cursed, sinful of all.  Which they are not.   Probably some of the more religious in the US, part of the so called Bible belt.   

Another great contradiction in right wing thinking, you know, the same folks who tell you all the time that the biggest problem by far is that government in in your business. 

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@CWalpole @bcmugger C'mon, you are letting facts interfere with perception.  Its more fun without facts, ask Sarah or Michelle.  And even better when you just make them up. 

ReformedII
ReformedII

@outsider2011 @bcmugger   Well you are somewhat incorrect.  The justices are anti-Christ, but they will have to explain that later on to the Great Judge.

His Law trumps everything!

amsaric
amsaric

@small_axe @bcmugger I don't know where in bcmugger's comment is religion mentioned, but it really has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with people's anthropological perception of society.

SurvivorZ
SurvivorZ

@small_axe @tcp5353 It's simple!!

Does something that one is doing benefit the species? No, then it should not be enshrined in law.

Does something that one is doing put one's race at a disadvantage to races who do not share in that prediliction? OK, that should be legislated against.

That's the line. The major problem with homosexuality is that they typically have 100s of partners and have much higher incidences of deadly diseases, purely because of their very lifestyle habits. We thus should be wary of mainstreaming such unhealthy behaviors by catering to them in case law.

ReformedII
ReformedII

@PaulDirks @tcp5353   "Piercings" being destructive to the moral fabric [the ONLY thing that counts] of the nation, YES if they became the anti-family force that "men lying with men" then intelligent folks will understand they have to be kept from destroying the nation.

But illiterate folk like you do not get it!

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Are you this dumb all the time or just on this website?  How does that feel?  To be insulted by someone who does not know much about you (other that your imbecilic rant)?  "God allows events" is about the same as saying he is indifferent.   If he is indifferent what difference does worship make?  Nation turns its back on God....so you are saying God was not indifferent, or did the Nation just happen?  What about other Nations?  Is the UK blessed by God?  Germany?  Iraq?  China?  Or they are not blessed?  Or is he just letting things happen?  5hit happens you know, is that your theory for God?

ReformedII
ReformedII

@synergenetics @ReformedII   In a couple of hundred trillion years [of course as the Bible says we will actually be outside time] those "cut & pastes" will be understood by even you to have been the ONLY things that mattered.

Life is an instant out of trillions of eons.  It is nothing more than a test of what you do with 11 words.  You are failing that test for which you were warned repeatedly.

If The Teacher says; "I am giving you a pop quiz.  It will be one question and your entire life depends on a yes or no answer."  What does synergenetics do?   "He" fails to study and flunks the test. 

ReformedII
ReformedII

@notLostInSpace @mantisdragon91 @ReformedII   I'd bet you are way under 50 years old.

"The rain falls on the just and the unjust."  He "allows" events.   Your disobedience, affects me and mine.  But, True Believers know this life is ONLY an instant out of eternity.  I was hit by a car when I was 22.  Do you seriously think [even though it effects me now] in a trillion years that will mean didley squat to me?  NO!

Jesus asked: "why do you worry about things that do not matter?'  My wifes dad died 6-23-13.  She cried, of coure for a couple of days, but finally she said: "Well, now he is better off than me."

I know you are illiterate and ignorant, but you have all the info you need to make the correct choice for eternity.

Life is ONLY a test of what you do with 11 words.  The ONLY thing that matters is how you live with those 11 words.

1-4  In the beginning God                                                                                                                    5--11  Who do you say that I am?

When The NATION turns its back on God, He turns His back on that NATION.

 

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

SurvivorZ

For a moment I thought I was reading something from an intelligent thinking person who perphaps just has a different opinion than me....then the quip about the Zionist Jews blew away any credibility you have.  If someone offers you a trip in the way back machine please send yourself to Germany in 1937, you will fit in nicely.

SurvivorZ
SurvivorZ

@CWalpole @SurvivorZ @small_axe @tcp5353 HIV is just one small ailment afflicting gays.  Hepatitis and Cyphillus are the big killers now.

According to an article by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2010: "Gay and bisexual men remain the group most heavily affected by HIV, according to the CDC. Although they represent 2 percent of the U.S. population, gay and bisexual men accounted for 61 percent of new HIV infections in 2009." The standard understanding is that homosexuality takes about 20 years off the life of the average person who starts engaging in the behaviors in their early 20s.

SurvivorZ
SurvivorZ

@small_axe @SurvivorZ @tcp5353 Let's get something straight:

I do not condone banning very much. I do not believe homosexuality should be banned, and certainly not harmful substances like tobacco, alcohol or even meth. Instead, public education and outreach campaigns should be started, and the products heavily taxed.

The harmful sideeffects of the typical homosexual lifestyle should DEFINITELY be part of every sexual education class, since it is proven that the average homosexual lifespan is only to age 60-65 and the vast majority die of diseases.

I do not watch pornography; it was legalized, produced, and promoted by Zionist Jews and they have even said that they want it to increase dissatisfaction of mates in both men and women. Particularly when women view pornography, people of both sexes become disenchanted with the choices around them, even their own partners. It is very harmful to society, undoubtedly more than homosexuality, and there *needs* to be much more public awareness of the negative sides. I haven't watched porn since I was a teenager and discoverd these ugly truths.

CWalpole
CWalpole

@SurvivorZ @small_axe @tcp5353 What about a man who has sex with hundreds of women? or a woman who has sex with hundreds of men? Should promiscuous straights also be legislated against? Monogamy for all? Once you have sex with someone, that is your partner for life?

Also, where the ever loving f*** do you get that moronic statistic? The days of AIDS and other STDs being "the gay diseases" are long past. And everyone has different sexual activity. 

small_axe
small_axe

@SurvivorZ @small_axe @tcp5353 You're kidding right? Yeah, of course you are. I mean seriously, if you were to truly believe that, then you would likewise have to believe that tobacco and alcohol would have to be banned. And what about pornography? You've never watched any right? Go crawl under a rock, you'll be safer and likely happier there.

ReformedII
ReformedII

@CWalpole @ReformedII   When the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the pit.

You are totally blind.   God doesn't give a flip what I think.  He does not care if I am happy IF [the big point, IF] I am violating what He said a couple of days ago.   [A thousand years is as ONE day]   He easily forgives [beyond my understanding :)] but obviously this nation, with the foolishness of  your relatives has gone beyond asking for His forgiveness.

And your family members have actively hurt everybody else in the country by turning their back on God.

 The example of Abraham & Sodom applies to us.  God is willing to be merciful as long as there is a certain amount of professed love for His laws.  [perfection demands LAW and rules!  There is a reason He said"  When they do that it stinks to high heaven!]  But if His minimum happened to be your "aunt" and "Godfather" then it would affect my children and everybody's children. 

We are at the point where 55 million children being murdered, and "men lying with men" and our GREED an arrogance is about to bring; "I have had enough of you!"

CWalpole
CWalpole

@ReformedII I hate to tell you this, but I was raised in a family where my aunt was happily married to her wife, and they sent me to a christian summer camp on their own dime. My godfather was also happily married to his husband, and I spent many summers at their house.

My parents both raised me to believe that everyone should have the same rights as everyone else, so long as they were not actively harming anyone. And I don't mean "they offend my delicate morality," I mean "they are trying to physically injure me."

Despite this TERRIBLE ANTI-FAMILY INFLUENCE..... I have a fiance. We have talked about raising a family. It will probably happen soon. If I did not come from such a loving, nurturing environment, gay and straight family members alike, I sincerely doubt I would be anywhere near as willing to bring a child into this world full of hate from people like you.

TMA
TMA

@bcmugger @TMA @semusdunlop No it's not, national polls show that the majority agree with same sex marriage equality. What's your proof?