In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Kennedy sided with the four liberals on the court. Most importantly, the majority found that DOMA is unconstitutional on equal protection grounds, which will give all married same sex couples equal treatment under federal law.
Justice Kennedy writing for the majority,
The class to which DOMA directs its restrictions and restraints are those persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State. DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to 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, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.
It is important to remember that marriage touches every aspect of an individual’s life. There are over a thousand federal laws related to marriage. This ruling has huge implications for many couples. This is not just about “marriage.” This affects federal taxes, immigration law, access to health insurance, inheritance, almost everything.
This is a huge victory for the LGBT community. No longer can the federal government say homosexuals or their relationships are some how less than anyone else.
Photo by Ludovic Bertron released under Creative Commons License