On the morning of June 26, in a pair of landmark decisions, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled against both the so-called Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), in the case of United States v. Windsor, 83-year-old Edie Windsor’s case, and Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, in Hollingsworth v. Perry, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo’s case, by votes of 5 to 4.
With Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor voting to overturn and Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas voting to retain DOMA, SCOTUS ruled DOMA unconstitutional, which will afford same-sex couples equal protection in taxation, health care, and family leave, according to Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson.
In the decision concerning Proposition 8, the Court ruled that California’s "Ninth Circuit was without jurisdiction to consider the appeal. The judgment of the Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction." This restores the right of California same-sex couples to marry, making same-sex marriage legal in 13 states, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Iowa, New York, Washington, Maryland, Minnesota, Delaware, and California, and the District of Columbia, with challenges from same-sex pairs in the remaining states expected now, with the obstacle of DOMA removed. The majority votes were cast by Chief Justice Robert and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Scalia, and Kagan, with Justices Thomas, Kennedy, Alito, and Sotomayor dissenting.
In an email, Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart commented, “What a thrilling day! The U.S. Supreme Court announced two historic decisions today and, once again, our world has changed. We are two steps closer to the goal of full equality for LGBT Americans. The core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been struck down, and the freedom to marry will soon be restored in California. An ugly chapter in our nation’s history is over.”
Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer said, “Today is a historic day for our movement and the freedom to marry. The Supreme Court of the United States stood on the right side of history and declared sections of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. The Pride Agenda heralds this historic decision that means that our Federal government must recognize our marriages and grant our families access to Federal benefits.” He added, “We offer congratulations to our friends in California who, with pro-LGBT New Yorkers and Americans by their side, mounted a successful and historic campaign. We look forward to the day when this issue is put to rest for all Americans and marriage equality is secured across the entire country.”