Supreme Court Invalidates DOMA, Validates Gay Marriage in California

Sep 3, 2013 by

The highest court in the US voted to strike down a law that prevented gay couples from being recognized by the federal government, which also means a lifting on a ban on gay marriages in California.

The Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) was signed into law by then-president Bill Clinton, and primarily blocked married gay couples from receiving federal recognition as a married couple. This was true even for couples who live in states which allow gay marriages. The block also meant that all the benefits that are traditionally provided to married couples including social Security survivor benefits were denied to married gay couples.

U.S. v. Windsor was a landmark case for gay rights in the US. In a 5-4 decision on June 26, 2013 Section 3 of the DOMA which defined marriage as one between heterosexual couples only was considered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, citing the protection embodied under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment that safeguards a person against the abuse of government authority.

Because this ruling essentially stripped DOMA of its main purpose, which was to prevent gay couples from being recognized by the federal government, it effectively invalidated it. It also reflected on the legal standing of Proposition 8, which is a ban on gay marriages in California passed by voters in 2008 when the state made it legal for gay couples to be married. By June 28, 2013, two days after the Supreme Court ruling on U.S. v. Windsor, the stay on same sex marriages was lifted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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