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Supreme Court rules DOMA unconstitutional

The Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional by a vote of 5-4. On a day of landmark rulings, the court also paved the way for California to allow gay marriage.

The US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday, ruling it unconstitutional.

The vote was 5-4, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing the opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts dissented, along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Kennedy wrote, "DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment."

The whole opinion can be found here.

The Defense of Marriage Act was passed in 1996 and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton.

The part that was challenged by Windsor v. United States was Section 3, which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, making them ineligible for the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

The ruling does not legalize gay marriage in America. What it does do is afford same-sex couples who are legally married the same treatment as married heterosexual couples.

As the SCOTUS blog noted, "The Court explained that the states have long had the responsibility of regulating and defining marriage, and some states have opted to allow same-sex couples to marry to give them the protection and dignity associated with marriage. By denying recognition to same-sex couples who are legally married, federal law discriminates against them to express disapproval of state-sanctioned same-sex marriage."

President Barack Obama, who voiced his support for gay marriage before being re-elected, tweeted:

He later released a statement applauding the court's ruling: "This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal - and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

Obama hailed the ruling as a victory for same-sex couples, their children and their families who will "get the respect and protection they deserve."

He said, "So we welcome today's decision, and I've directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly."

Scalia read his dissent, saying that the court's explanation of its jurisdiction and decision "both spring from the same diseased root: an exalted notion of the role of this court in American democratic society."

Roberts, in his dissent, said, "We hold today that we lack jurisdiction to consider it in the particular context of Hollingsworth v. Perry."

Roberts continued, "The Court does not have before it, and the logic of its opinion does not decide, the distinct question whether the States . . . may continue to utilize the traditional definition of marriage."

The SCOTUS blog rightly predicted that the language in the DOMA dissents indicated the court's position on Proposition 8.

Shortly after ruling on DOMA, the court ruled that the supporters of Prop 8 lacked the standing to bring the case to court. This will likely mean officials in California allow same-sex couples to get married once again.

 

More from GlobalPost: Supreme Court Prop 8 ruling paves way for same-sex marriage in California

Here is a round-up of reactions both before and after the rulings on gay marriage:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130626/supreme-court-rules-doma-unconstitutional