Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act

Online Staff Report

The United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision June 26, struck down a portion of a federal law enacted in 1996 that allowed states to legally refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.

In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, “as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

DOMA allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states and, until Section 3 of the act was ruled unconstitutional in the June 26 Supreme Court ruling, restricted federal marriage benefits.

DOMA was passed by both houses of Congress by large majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton Sept. 21, 1996.

Section 3 of DOMA codified the non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, immigration and the filing of joint tax returns.

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, offered the following reaction to the court’s ruling:

The Supreme Court today affirmed America’s promise of equality by ruling that the federal government cannot ignore constitutional principles when it comes to gay and lesbian couples and their marriages, and it is a moment to celebrate. But today’s historic victory overturning the Defense of Marriage Act is bittersweet in the states like Illinois, where couples are still denied the right and recognition of marriage. For anyone who doubts that civil unions in Illinois created an unacceptable second-class status, the court’s ruling is a powerful message that the state House urgently needs to join the Senate and pass the freedom to marry. It is crystal clear now that by failing to act the House denied gay and lesbian couples equal access to the federal protections that married couples in other states will now enjoy.”

Bishop David J. Malloy, bishop of the 11-county Catholic Diocese of Rockford, issued the following statement:

Today’s Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, which challenged the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, is a tremendous misstep for the direction of our country.

Our faith and the very truth of our creation by God, tells us that the nature of marriage is based in the complementarity of men and women and is intimately linked to the procreation and raising of children who have a right to a mother and a father. This ruling serves to undermine this fundamental basis of human interaction and its contribution to a stable society and the protection and formation of generations to come.

While this ruling may seem to open the door to further acceptance of a definition of marriage that is contrary to natural law, it does not change our freedom to disagree. It cannot and will not ever change what is written in our faith and in our human design.

We will continue our call to love all our brothers and sisters made in God’s image and likeness and do so with respect for God’s plan and his will for us as men and women. Our moral compass is set by a higher power than that of any court. We pray that those who rendered this decision will also be prepared to answer for its consequences to our society.”

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon (D) issued the following statement:

I am thrilled by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor today to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This decision supports one of the fundamental principles of our country — equality — and brings us one step closer to the nation we aspire to be.

I appreciate the Court’s decision in Perry, and am excited for all California couples whose marriages are once again recognized. The decision strengthens my resolve to work harder in Illinois and throughout the country to ensure full marriage equality.

I look forward to renewing that commitment to equal rights with Illinois families and advocates this Sunday at the Pride Parade in Chicago, as we continue working toward marriage equality in Illinois.”

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) added: “The Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act is a victory for couples who have been fighting to build their lives together and raise their families with all of the rights and dignity of marriage. In striking down DOMA, the Supreme Court has given added strength to our court fight to overturn Illinois’ ban on same sex marriage. Today’s decision also intensifies the need to pass a marriage equality bill in our state and ensure that all Illinois couples have access to the full rights and benefits of civil marriage.”

Posted June 26, 2013

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