DOMA Struck Down, California Gets Green Light For Gay Marriage
Matt | On 26, Jun 2013
It looks like the U.S. Supreme Court was thinking a bit more clear on Wednesday than earlier this week.
In a 5-4 ruling, the federal Defense of Marriage Act was overturned by the justices. The law, enacted in 1996, originally said that the federal government defined marriage as existing between one man and one woman. The 12 states and the District of Columbia that allow gay marriage were out of luck when it came to federal recognition of their rights. So, they couldn’t receive military or Social Security benefits, file income taxes together, or partake in other federal functions as a same-sex couple.
The justices cited the violation of the Equal Protection clause of the Fifth Amendment in the Constitution. The court said the federal government cannot discriminate in what is ultimately a state issue.
DOMA is dead now!
This does not mean that same-sex marriage is legal in the other states that did not originally have it. It simply offers greater protection to those couples in states with existing laws approving gay marriage (i.e., Washington, Minnesota, Iowa, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and the District of Columbia).
The other news for same-sex marriage advocates was that the Supreme Court decided to dismiss the case regarding the Prop 8 decision in California.
They upheld the lower court’s ruling. In short, it means they aren’t deciding whether the Prop 8 law (to ban same-sex marriage) is constitutional or not. They sent it back down to the appellate court and said their ruling in favor of marriage equality still stands. So, California is now on the path to approving same-sex marriage again.
What’s interesting in California is that the person with the authority to uphold the discriminatory Prop 8 ruling, state Attorney General Kamala Harris, decided she would not fight to defend it. Because she recused her office from the defense, that helped the Supreme Court kick it back to the lower courts in favor of same-sex marriage.
That was a gutsy and smart move on Harris’s part!