The Supreme Court has struck down a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, opening the door for married gay couples to be eligible for federal benefits.
The 5-to-4 ruling (attached below) on the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) deemed the law unconstitutional under the equal protection clause. The power to regulate marriage falls to the states, not the federal government, wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, the critical swing vote.
“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. He was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
“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.”
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.
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