the supreme court on wednesday ruled the federal defense of marriage act (doma), which defines marriage as a union between one man and woman, is unconstitutional. doma was signed into law by president bill clinton in 1996. the law bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes such as immigration, insurance benefits, social security survivors' benefits and tax filing.
section three of the law defines marriage as "a legal union between one man and woman as husband and wife" and a spouse as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." that provision had been struck down by eight lower courts before the supreme court's 5-4 ruling in united states v. windsor settled the matter for good.
this historical decision means legally married same-sex couples are now entitled to the same federal benefits as married opposite sex couples. the majority opinion was written by justice anthony kennedy and joined by justices stephen breyer, ruth baden ginsburg, elena kagen and sonia sotomayor. chief justice john roberts and justices samuel alito, antonin scalia and clarence thomas dissented.
president obama praised the ruling. obama said, "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."
obama further stated, "on an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation's commitment to religious freedom is also vital. how religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. nothing about this decision - which applies only to civil marriages - changes that."
attorney general eric holder said, "the court's ruling gives real meaning to the constitution's promise of equal protection to all members of our society, regardless of sexual orientation." the ruling impacts a "broad array of federal laws" holder added, saying the justice department will begin working to implement it.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. email@example.com.