June 26, 2013

Two Supreme Court rulings bolster gay marriage movement

In each decision, the high court endorses a position that helps the cause as well as individual couples.

The Associated Press

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Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the historic gay marriage case that was before the U.S. Supreme Court, reacts during a news conference at the LGBT Center, in New York, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. In a major victory for gay rights, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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Supporters of gay marriage embrace outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Wednesday after the court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by holding that defenders of California's gay marriage ban did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings striking down the ban.

AP

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Read the Supreme Court's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act
Read the court's decision declining to rule on Calif. PROP8

"DOMA divests married same-sex couples of the duties and responsibilities that are an essential part of married life," Kennedy wrote. "It tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage."

Kennedy joined the court's four liberal justices in the decision. The court's four conservatives dissented.

"The Constitution does not forbid the government to enforce traditional moral and sexual norms," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in dissent.

Scalia further warned that the lack of a uniform definition of marriage would cause many complications; for instance, for same-sex couples who must figure out their tax filing status when they move from one state to another. In the wake of the ruling, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and other Democrats said they would offer legislation to eliminate the Defense of Marriage Act altogether.

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act declares that, for the purposes of providing federal benefits, marriage is "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" and a spouse is only a "person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."

The definition is important because it determines eligibility for a host of federal rights, benefits and privileges.

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Additional Photos

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Michael Knaapen, left, and his husband John Becker, right, embrace outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Wednesday after the court struck down a federal provision denying benefits to legally married gay couples.

AP

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Plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the California Proposition 8 case, react to the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court on Wednesday outside the court in Washington. From left are, attorney Ted Boutrous, Jeff Zarrillo, and his partner Paul Katami, David Boies, and Sandy Stier and her partner Kris Perry.

AP

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Tina Reynolds celebrates the Supreme Court decision at the LGBT Sacramento Community Center on Wednesday in Sacramento, Calif. The court's ruling cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in the state of California.

AP / The Sacramento Bee, Hector Amezcua

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Gay rights advocate Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court at sun up in Washington, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. In two separate and significant victories for gay rights, the Supreme Court struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

click image to enlarge

Edith Windsor, left, the plaintiff in the historic gay marriage case that was before the U.S. Supreme Court, wipes her eyes after addressing supporters at the LGBT Center, in New York, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. In a major victory for gay rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

 


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