5-4 Ruling Says Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional, California Decision Limited to in-State Unions
By Doug Porter
Opinion on DOMA was by Justice Kennedy, joined by the four liberal Justices — Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.
“DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.”
Here’s a copy of the opinion. The impact of the case is the federal govt will have to re-work all their regulations to make benefits available to same sex couples. Note that Section 2 of DOMA was not struck down, meaning this ruling has no direct impact on State that ban same sex unions.
In CA, CT, DC, DE, IA, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, WA same sex marriages now have full protection of the law.
From Minnesota Senator Al Frankin, via Sarah Jones at Politicususa:
DOMA, a 1996 law, denies legally married same-sex couples over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage triggered at the federal level. Freedom to Marry explained that there are “over 1,100 protections and responsibilities conferred on married couples by the federal government including access to health care, parenting and immigration rights, social security, veterans and survivor benefits, and transfer of property—and that doesn’t include several hundred state and local laws, protections conferred by employers, or the intangible security, dignity, respect, and meaning that comes with marriage.”
This DOMA decision will also have a huge impact on immigration reform. From Gavin Aronsen at Mother Jones:
The Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday striking down the Defense of Marriage Act is a big victory not only for US citizens in same-sex relationships, but permanent residents who will now be able to petition for permanent residency for their foreign-born, same-sex spouses. The decision achieves most of what an amendment to the immigration reform bill introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) sought. The controversial measure, which some lawmakers worried could blow up the bill, stood little chance of making it into the final version of the legislation because of Republican opposition. LGBT proponents of immigration reform thus had been waiting eagerly for the DOMA ruling to come down. Wednesday’s ruling effectively made the amendment a moot point.
Politicians react on Twitter:
Carl DeMaio @carldemaio2m
I’m very pleased with the decision to strike down DOMA. All Americans deserve equal protection under the law.
Barack Obama @BarackObama: Today’s DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for #MarriageEquality. #LoveIsLove”
Right wing reaction:
Supreme Court overrules God…. Won’t be long before they outlaw the Bible as hate speech… How long before federal agents haul pastors out of the pulpit?
On Proposition 8
The decision means same-sex marriages in California will resume. How the ruling applies elsewhere will require additional litigation.
Amy from the SCOTUS blog with an early analysis:
Here’s a Plain English take on Hollingsworth v. Perry, the challenge to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage: After the two same-sex couples filed their challenge to Proposition 8 in federal court in California, the California government officials who would normally have defended the law in court, declined to do so. So the proponents of Proposition 8 stepped in to defend the law, and the California Supreme Court (in response to a request by the lower court) ruled that they could do so under state law. But today the Supreme Court held that the proponents do not have the legal right to defend the law in court. As a result, it held, the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the intermediate appellate court, has no legal force, and it sent the case back to that court with instructions for it to dismiss the case.
What this means in really plain English is the Supreme Court ruling leaves in place the initial trial court declaration that the ban is unconstitutional.
From the ruling:
“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here.”
Here’s the full text of the ruling on Proposition 8. Eighteen thousand couples were married in California prior to the passing of Proposition 8 in 2008.
The State of California has issued a letter to County Clerks and Recorders advising them that same sex couples will not be allowed to marry until the Ninth Circuit Court issues a further order dissolving the injunction that has been in place since the appeals process began. In practical terms it means that weddings can’t start for another month or two.
There’s a bonus for companies providing health insurance… From Matthew Zeitlin at Buzzfeed:
For even the gay-friendliest companies, including health care benefits for employees with same-sex spouses meant a tough choice: effectively pay those employees less for taking the benefits or pay out more to make up for their higher taxes. Thanks to today’s Supreme Court decision striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted federal benefits to opposite sex spouses, employers may no longer have to make that choice.
One of the largest federal benefits for spouses is inclusion on employer provided health care plans without higher taxes for the employee. When an employee adds his or her spouse to an employer health care plan, it doesn’t count as higher income. But for gay and lesbian employees who included their spouses (who aren’t “dependents” for tax purposes) on employer health plans, the greater benefit was counted as income and brought along a bigger tax bill.
Today’s an emotional day for a lot of people. Columnist/Blogger Andrew Sullivan, who’s been advocating for this cause for a long time:
I have to say that it is the most liberating feeling to hear your once near-solitary voice blend finally into a communal roar until it isn’t your voice at all any more. It’s the voice of justice. We will pass away (and so many didn’t live to see this day). Justice won’t.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota did not disappoint with her reaction:
“No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted,” Ms. Bachmann said in a statement. “For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman.” She said the court action “will undermine the best interest of children and the best interests of the United States.”
Heh, heh…. from Twitter:
RT @frankthorpNBC: Asked for a response to Rep Bachmann’s statement about DOMA, @NancyPelosi just responds: “Who cares?”
— Lucas O’Connor (@lucasoconnor) June 26, 2013
Local activists are asking supporters of gay marriage to gather for a rally at the Hillcrest Pride Flag at 5 p.m., at University Avenue and Normal Street. The rally is expected to continue later (7pm) with a celebration at the LGBT Community Center, 3909 Centre St.
In Oceanside, a rally is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, 510 N. Coast Highway.
Congressman Scott Peters released the following statement:
“It is a significant day for the American ideals of equality and fairness,” Congressman Peters said. “I am proud to stand with the LGBT community as all Americans can celebrate this news.
“With the ruling in the Proposition 8 case, Californians will now be able to marry the person who they love. This is a reaffirmation of the loving commitments that LGBT Californians are already sharing across our state.
“Further, I am glad that the Supreme Court has announced what we already knew – that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. It makes clear that all couples and families are to be treated equally under the eyes of the law. It is about time we move beyond division and discrimination and instead work toward ensuring the equal rights guaranteed to all citizens under the Constitution.”
Assemblymember Toni Atkins issued a statement, saying, in part:
As one of the 18,000 couples who were able to marry before the passage of Prop 8, I personally know how important both of today’s rulings are.
Certain rights are fundamental and cannot be taken away at the ballot box. This is one of the self-evident truths of the American system. I have always believed in the essential fairness of the American people and in the promise of equality that is embedded in the U.S. Constitution. In poll after poll, a majority of Californians say they support marriage equality. Today’s Supreme Court ruling brings that belief closer to reality. Now we must work to establish equality throughout the nation.
Until then, at least in California, let the weddings begin!
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez added:
“Equality has rarely been achieved easily, but it’s a value Americans know is worth fighting for. I am elated to know that same-sex couples now have the opportunity to marry and look forward to celebrating with friends who are no longer legally barred from pursuing their own happiness, regardless of who they love. Today is a great day to celebrate a renewed commitment to equal treatment and respect of one another, but I pledge to defend equal rights for all people as the injustice created by inequality still persists in many corners of our society.”
Music to enjoy the moment by. Right Here, Right Now, by Jesus Jones… (h/t Americablog.com)
On This Day: 1971 – The U.S. Justice Department issued a warrant for Daniel Ellsberg, accusing him of giving away the Pentagon Papers. 1977 – Elvis Presley’s final concert took place at Market Square Arena, Indianapolis. 2003 – Justice Scalia wrote an angry dissent saying if sodomy laws were rejected it would lead to…gay marriage! Well, he was right.
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Jim Bliesner says
Curious how they can constrict and hamper a person opportunity to vote one day and make this decision the next. Is it a matter of who’s ox is gored? Curious juxtaposition here.