Great news. The Supreme Court has struck down DOMA and has not upheld Prop 8 in California!. This is a historic day for human rights. What were you doing when you got the news?
By Pete Williams and Erin McClam, NBC News
In a pair of landmark decisions, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage, and it allowed gay marriage to resume in California by declining to decide a separate case.
The court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to gay couples who are legally married in their states, including Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights and family leave.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-4 decision, said that the act wrote inequality into federal law and violated the Fifth Amendment’s protection of equal liberty.
“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” he wrote.
Edith Windsor, the 84-year-old woman who brought the case against DOMA, said that the ruling ensured that the federal government could no longer discriminate against the marriages of gays and lesbians.
“Children born today will grow up in a world without DOMA, and those same children who happen to be gay will be free to love and get married,” she said.
In the second case, the court said that it could not rule on a challenge to Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage in California passed by voters there in 2008, because supporters of the ban lacked the legal standing to appeal a lower court’s decision against it.
The court did not rule on the constitutionality of gay marriage, but the effect of the decision will be to allow same-sex marriage to resume in California. That decision was also 5-4, written by Chief Justice John Roberts.
It was not clear when same-sex marriages would resume in California. Los Angeles County said in a statement that it was waiting for a technical step by lower courts — the lifting of a stay that stopped gay marriage in California — but was prepared to begin issuing marriage licenses and performing ceremonies for gay couples.
The two rulings, released minutes apart, were greeted by jubilant cheers outside the Supreme Court, where crowds of gay-marriage supporters waved rainbow banners and flags bearing symbols of equality, and at City Hall in San Francisco.
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