Supreme Court on Wednesday
struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law blocking federal
recognition of same-sex marriages.
The decision was 5-4, written
by Justice Anthony Kennedy. It said that the law amounted to the
“deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the
Two same-sex couples challenged the provision as unconstitutional and federal courts in California agreed.
The federal marriage law, known by its acronym DOMA, defines marriage as
between a man and a woman for the purpose of deciding who can receive a
range of federal benefits. Another provision not being challenged for
the time being allows states to withhold recognition of same-sex
marriages from other states.
DOMA easily passed Congress and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the year of his re-election.
Several federal district and appeals courts struck down the provision.
In 2011, the Obama administration abandoned its defense of the law but
continued to enforce it. House Republicans are now defending DOMA in
the courts. President Barack Obama subsequently endorsed gay marriage in
The justices chose for their review the case of 83-year-old Edith
Windsor of New York, who sued to challenge a $363,000 federal estate tax
bill after her partner of 44 years died in 2009.
Windsor, who goes by Edie, married Thea Spyer in 2007 after doctors told
them Spyer would not live much longer. She suffered from multiple
sclerosis for many years. Spyer left everything she had to Windsor.
Windsor would have paid nothing in inheritance taxes if she had been married to a man.
nude, Radiohead from paul beck on Vimeo.