Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Anti-Gay Marriage Law

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down Section 3 of the defence of Marriage Act, a Clinton-era law that deprived same-sex couples of federal marriage benefits.

Here’s what the opinion said, according to SCOTUSBlog:

“DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

The case was brought by Edith Windsor, an 83-year lesbian who paid $363,000 in estate taxes when her wife died that a heteroxexual spouse wouldn’t have had to pay.

Bill Clinton signed DOMA in 1996 after Hawaii signaled that it might soon legalise gay marriage. Section 3 of DOMA says the federal government doesn’t recognise gay marriage sanctioned by states. 

The law — which even Clinton has renounced — effectively deprives same-sex married couples of many of the benefits that straight couples get, including tax breaks and the ability to help spouses immigrate to the U.S.

Two appeals courts have found that DOMA violates the right to equal protection under the Constitution.

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