A key section of DOMA has been declared unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled Wednesday that DOMA deprives gays and lesbians of their rights by not allowing them to have the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples. Gays can now receive the same benefits in all states where gay marriage is legal. It was a 5-4 decision with Justice Kennedy voting with the majority.
Justice Kennedy’s decision states that DOMA was tantamount to “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”
In that statement, lies the setting for overturning every state law against gay marriage because to do otherwise would be the deprivation of equal liberty.
SCOTUS punted on Proposition 8, stating that proponents of Proposition 8 lacked standing to challenge lower court rulings. In other words, Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, is invalid. SCOTUS said they do not have jurisdiction.
Gay marriage is not defined as a civil right at this juncture but the path is cleared.
Polygamists claim they are up next.
There were two issues before the Supreme Court of the United States. The issues were California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Two same-sex couples challenged the provision as unconstitutional and federal courts in California agreed.
The federal marriage law, known by its acronym DOMA, defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of deciding who can receive a range of federal benefits. Another provision not being challenged for the time being allows states to withhold recognition of same-sex marriages from other states.
DOMA easily passed Congress and was signed by Bill Cinton.
Several federal district and appeals courts struck down the provision and Obama abandoned any defense of DOMA.
The Justices chose to review the case of 83-year-old Edith Windsor of New York, who sued to challenge a $363,000 federal estate tax bill after her partner of 44 years died in 2009.
Windsor, who goes by Edie, married Thea Spyer in 2007 after doctors told them Spyer would not live much longer. She suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years. Spyer left everything she had to Windsor.
Windsor would have paid nothing in inheritance taxes if she had been married to a man.
Good for Ms. Windsor. It might not be good for certain religions, however.
California legislators will now move to legalize gay marriage in California. They also want gay marriage defined as a civil right which would allow legislators to take away all tax-exempt benefits from institutions and organizations that do not abide by this belief and who claim that marriage is between a man and a woman. That is where this ruling gets dicey and becomes a possible infringement on freedom of religion.
The government needs to stay out of marriage.