On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which made it illegal for same-sex couples to receive federal benefits, was unconstitutional. By a 5-4 vote, the Court struck down the entire law ruling that it was discriminatory. “In determining whether a law is motivated by improper animus or purpose, discriminations of an unusual character especially require careful consideration,” reads page 20 of the decision. “DOMA cannot survive under these principles.”
“DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment,” the decision reads.
The Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law in 1996, restricted access to federal marriage benefits and interstate marriage recognition to heterosexual couples. In 2011, President Barack Obama instructed his Department of Justice to stop defending the law after its constitutionality was challenged in the Second Circuit Appeals Court.
DOMA’s Section 3, which restricts same-sex couples’ access to shared public employee benefits, estate taxes, and ability to file for bankruptcy, has previously been found unconstitutional in eight federal courts including the Frist and Second Circuit Courts of Appeal.
In March, President Bill Clinton said he regretted signing that law ahead of his bid for reelection. He urged the Supreme Court to overturn the law which he called “discriminatory.”
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