From the SCOTUSblog, explaining in plain English what the striking down of DOMA means:
“The federal Defense of Marriage Act defines “marriage,” for purposes of over a thousand federal laws and programs, as a union between a man and a woman only. Today the Court ruled, by a vote of five to four, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, that the law is unconstitutional. The Court explained that the states have long had the responsibility of regulating and defining marriage, and some states have opted to allow same-sex couples to marry to give them the protection and dignity associated with marriage. By denying recognition to same-sex couples who are legally married, federal law discriminates against them to express disapproval of state-sanctioned same-sex marriage. This decision means that same-sex couples who are legally married must now be treated the same under federal law as married opposite-sex couples.”
Take note: Because gay marriage is constitutionally banned in Alaska, the law does nothing for the couple that Sen. Lisa Murkowski wrote about when she came out against DOMA. It only applies to couples in the 13 states that allow gay marriage.
The California ruling is a narrow one, and only allows gay marriage to go forward in that state.
Here’s what Murkowski said about the DOMA decision:
“I welcome today’s Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act because the federal government should empower households, respect the decisions of states and otherwise get out of the way. This ruling represents victories for states’ rights and equal treatment under the law.”
More reactions and excerpts on the decision throughout the day.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org