Gay and lesbian couples who are legally married in the 12 states that, along with Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriages will be able to access federal marriage benefits such as tax breaks.
The 5-4 ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court just moments ago says the Federal Defense of Marriage Act violates the 5th Amendment by "singl[ing] out a class of persons deemed by a state entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty."
In a a separate 5-4 ruling, the court declined to consider the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, saying the petitioners, as a private party, did not have the right to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when the state had chosen not to. A lower court had declared the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional - making California the 13th state to allow same-sex marriage.
Get the latest developments here from NPR
Some background on the two cases, from NPR's Nina Totenberg.
- United States vs. Windsor - a New York case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act
- Hollingsworth vs. Perry - a case challenging the constitutionality of California's voter-approved Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in the state.
Marketplace has an economic take on the Court's rulings
Local impact and reaction
- Here in Missouri, the state Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of a state law limiting survivor benefits to married couples.
- "Today history was made and love prevailed. As we go forth from today, we should celebrate this moment, but realize full, equal and just treatment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is still a challenge. Understanding the impact on Missouri will take a bit of time, but rest assured, we will continue to fight for justice on behalf of the community in everything from basic protections to marriage rights." - A.J. Bockelman, executive director, PROMO
- "Today, the Supreme Court took a historic step by providing equal access to more than 1,100 federal rights and benefits for same-sex couples. Members of the Illinois House now have more than 1,100 new reasons to make marriage equality law in Illinois. This is a monumental day for freedom in the history of our nation. The opportunity to guarantee equal rights and benefits to all citizens - under both state and federal law - is one we must seize here in the Land of Lincoln without delay." - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn
- "The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and to dismiss the California Proposition 8 appeal does not change the reality of marriage, nor does it change the Archdiocese of St. Louis's responsibility to defend marriage as being between one man and one woman. It is important to note that marriage predates both the U.S. government and Western civilization." (Read extended statement) - Archdiosese of St. Louis
- "...this is not only a matter of fairness (though it is certainly that). Cities are strengthened by their families. I want St. Louis to be the sort of diverse and open place in which all families, gay and straight, choose to live, create, and build businesses." (Read extended statement) - St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay
- “I believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage and believe that it should be up to states’ to determine the definition of marriage. The people of Missouri have spoken and over 70% of Missourians’ decided that marriage should be between one man and one woman. I will always support states’ rights and the people of Missouri have made their decision.” - Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO)
- “I applaud today’s decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down DOMA and invalidating Prop 8 in California. The high court has affirmed that equal protection under the law applies to every American. This is a historic turning point that advances full equality for all.” - Congressman William Lacy Clay (D-MO)
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