In a landmark victory for equality, the United States Supreme Court today struck down the so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act' or DOMA, a law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing legally married same-sex couples. In a 5 to 4 ruling, the Court determined that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.
"DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty," according to the ruling opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. "The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others."
This means that commited and loving same-sex couples who are legally married will be entitled to equal treatment under federal law-- with regard to, for example, income taxes and Social Security benefits.
"At long last, the legal marriages of countless gay and lesbian couples will be afforded the same federal recognition and protections as any other," said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "Today is a cornerstone for justice and equality -- when our nation once again moved closer to recognizing and celebrating all LGBT Americans for their contributions to our great country."
In a 5-4 vote, the Court also denied standing in Hollingsworth v Perry, which challenged the constitutionality of California's anti-gay Proposition 8 or Prop. 8, a statewide ban on marriage equality. The decision will restore marriage equality in California.
"Fairness has finally been restored in California," said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "A majority of Americans, and now the highest Court in the land, agree that it's wrong to strip loving and committed gay and lesbian couples of the fundamental opportunity to marry the person you love. Today, we stand in solidarity with millions of Californians, who can finally say 'I do' to the person they love."
Yesterday, GLAAD expressed disappointment that a critical section of the Voting Rights Act was ruled unconstitutional, thus removing voting protections for vulnerable Americans, including LGBT Americans.
GLAAD has been working on shaping the media narrative around marriage equality. Visit www.glaad.org to view married same-sex couples, faith leaders, marriage experts and more, who are willing to talk about how DOMA has impacted them. Learn more about the facts of the case and the implications of this ruling.