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United States Government The Courts Politics

Supreme Court Overturns Defense of Marriage Act 1073

12 U.S. states have adopted same-sex marriage over the past decade, and many other states have adopted legislation specifically intended to prevent same-sex marriages from being performed or recognized within their borders. The landscape has just changed on that front, though: the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages, has been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court; here's the ruling itself. From the NBC News version of the story: "The decision was 5-4, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. “'DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others,' the ruling said. 'The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.'" One major area this affects is tax law; that's one of the salient points in U.S. v. Windsor, the case that drove the court's conclusion. There's more on the story at many major news outlets, and at law-centric sources like SCOTUSblog. The Boston Globe is also live blogging various reactions.

Update: 06/26 16:58 GMT by T : In a separate decision, the court disappointed supporters of California's Proposition 8, a law passed by voter initiative, under which "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." The court ruled that the private parties which had taken up the Prop 8 banner did not have standing to do so; as the story says, "The 5-4 decision avoids, for now, a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional "equal protection" right that would apply to all states."
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Supreme Court Overturns Defense of Marriage Act

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  • Good ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @09:53AM (#44112441)

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

    You should no more be able to deny rights to people because of their sexuality than you should be able to deny the right of blacks to vote and hold property.

    That Scalia dissented means he's not looking at the right parts of the Constitution but is just being selective.

    Believing one group should be able to dictate the rights of another group makes you no better than the Taliban.

    • Re:Good ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ganjadude (952775) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:09AM (#44112701) Homepage
      I believe there is more to it than that.

      I for one want the government out of marriage. Let the churches deal with "marriage"

      Now having said that. If 2 gay people want to live together and have the same rights that current married couples get, I dont see why that should not be allowed. I also think that if 2 people simply live together they should get the same rights, "love" should never be the deciding factor when it comes to giving tax breaks to people or even worse tax money to people.
      • Re:Good ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:30AM (#44113091) Homepage

        I for one want the government out of marriage. Let the churches deal with "marriage"

        Horse shit. You can get married at city hall without involving a church; there is no reason to involve a 'church' at all. Atheists get married all the time, and don't require the blessing of a church. You can get married by a justice of the peace or a ship's captain without ever once invoking god.

        There's marriage as a religious institution, and marriage as a legally recognized civil institution. This decision is ruling on the civil aspects of marriage.

        The civil institution of marriage confers legal rights to people, and this was basically about denying those same rights to another group of people.

        If marriage only affected religious aspects of your life, it would be one thing. But it affects taxes, property rights, and all sorts of things which have nothing whatsoever to do with a church.

        So, no, as long as there are rights granted to people on the basis of being married, this is not an issue for the churches. Marriage has long since ceased to be a purely religious institution, and that's what this ruling is addressing.

        • Re:Good ... (Score:4, Informative)

          by ganjadude (952775) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:43AM (#44113345) Homepage
          as I said, I want equality for all. Meaning that all americans can have the same rights as a married couple. I am simply saying take the word married out of the equation, and everyone throws a shitfit. It almost seems as if equal rights are not what is sought after when you can offer the same exact thing with a different name and it isnt good enough.

          as I have said before, this entire thing is nothing more than a distraction from the real issues going on in america today.
          • Re:Good ... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @11:03AM (#44113629) Homepage

            as I said, I want equality for all ... it almost seems as if equal rights are not what is sought after when you can offer the same exact thing with a different name and it isnt good enough.

            So, you want different but equal? This group can legally join as a couple and we'll call it one thing, but this group will do the exact same thing and we'll call it something else to appease the first group?

            That's just keeping the other group as second class citizens. That's not equality, that's still saying "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". Equality is treating it all the same, not classing it as something different.

            As long as people can get married in a civil ceremony not involving a church, pretending that marriage is a religious institution is inherently dishonest. And as long as two people who are too old to have kids can get married, you can't pretend that marriage is solely for a union to create children.

            This act was solely about propping up a religious definition of marriage which has no bearing on how marriage works as a civil institution.

            • Re:Good ... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by ganjadude (952775) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @11:08AM (#44113701) Homepage
              well yes and no. im saying strip the term "marriage" for the legal world and replace it with "civil union" for ALL gay or straight. Leave the word marriage to the churches. or other groups. in other words, make "civil union" the legal definition of marriage as far as the government is concerned. than everyone should be happy. If people still are not happy with that, that just tells me there ar eother motives behind them.
        • Re:Good ... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nemesisghost (1720424) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:57AM (#44113531)

          What I would like to see is a complete redefinition of what the government recognizes as a civil marriage, by removing the marriage part. Why can't I as a single guy, get the same advantages as a married couple with my roommates on our taxes & other social benefits? Or on the other end, what about those who are in a relationship with more than 1 person(ie polygamy)? Let me define my "family" as I see fit, and leave the government out of it entirely. Because as it stands, even after today, it's not fair.

          • Re:Good ... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @12:41PM (#44115015)
            I think your idea has merit, but lets save that for another time if for no other reason than to give the far right social regressives less to get worked up into a frenzy about. For years they've been screaming "What's next? Marrying a dog?!? SATAN WORSHIPING!?!?!?" Lets keep the focus on the fact that they're opposing love most people can relate to, THEN try to get platonic and polygametic relationships covered. Jumping to it right now will make them more sure they're right, that we're on a slippery slope to people marrying their dogs and bringing the end of times. Or whatever.
        • Re:Good ... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @03:11PM (#44116535)

          Marriage has long since ceased to be a purely religious institution, and that's what this ruling is addressing.

          Technically, the concept of marriage predates religion. Religion just pretends they created it.

      • Re:Good ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:32AM (#44113129) Homepage

        I also think that if 2 people simply live together they should get the same rights, "love" should never be the deciding factor when it comes to giving tax breaks to people or even worse tax money to people.

        Of course, there are plenty of people who are married that aren't in love. I mean, how many May-December romances are actually about love, rather than the May half of the couple getting a ton of cash by the time they're 40 while the December half gets some sex and nursing in their old age? And there are also plenty of couples that are married and remain together solely to prevent the kids from living through a divorce. And in some subcultures in the US there are still arranged marriages. And there are some college friends of mine who weren't in love at all but were legally married because they could get better financial aid that way.

        I agree with your basic premise though. What the government should be doing is providing a way to designate any other person as legally a part of your family, for medical decision-making, inheritance, etc, without any assumptions about what the nature of that relationship actually is. For example, my grandmother lived with a long-time friend of hers for about 20 years, and to the best of my knowledge weren't lovers, but that friendship was at least as important to them as their marriages had been.

      • Re:Good ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:38AM (#44113235) Homepage Journal

        Simple workaround:

        1 - The State is out of the marriage business, and into the business of Civil Unions. Those pieces of State-respected status and benefits are conferred upon Civil Unions.
        2 - Existing Marriages are grandfathered into Civil Union status.
        3 - Secular / State-run ceremonies confer a Civil Union.
        4 - Marriage becomes an institution of the Church, but at the same time as a "duly qualified" agent of the Church grants a Marriage, a Civil Union is granted as well.

        Mostly transparent, probably annoys people on both sides equally.

        As for "love", I think what we're looking for is a stable long-term situation. I suspect long-term stability is not possible without some definition of "love" being present. (Respect is certainly part of that mix, a component of that definition of "love".)

        • Re:Good ... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ubermiester (883599) * on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:45PM (#44117899)

          You realize that the main decision involved a law called "The Defense of Marriage Act" which disallowed same-sex "civil unions" from receiving the same benefits as "traditional" marriage, right? This was not about the word "marriage" or who gets to decide what it means. This was about exactly the benefits you are talking about. Social conservatives may be crazy but they are not dumb. They know that marriage as it relates to the government is inextricably tied to the benefits it grants, and that halting the very kind of legal recognition you outline is far more important to their goal of demonizing and marginalizing same-sex relationships than the word chosen to define these benefits. Your "simple workaround" implies that the fight to decide exactly who gets the benefits of civil unions/marriage has nothing to do with bigotry. I am sorry to say that such notions are woefully naive.

    • That Scalia dissented means he's not looking at the right parts of the Constitution but is just being selective.

      I can't think of the last time I've heard of a Justice saying that he personally detests the ruling but 'this is what the law says'. They all seem to join or dissent with the ruling that they prefer and back themselves into an argument to support it, which is antithetical to the job description. Somebody please prove me wrong on that.

      It says more about the wisdom of having nine final arbiters of

    • Re:Good ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:18AM (#44112857) Journal

      Not to mention the case that brought it before the court is the perfect example of WHY we don't want the fed deciding who is and isn't allowed and the fact that the right wing has a fit, even though the case involved something they like to crow about? Just makes 'em hypocrites in my book.

      For those that didn't see the details person was married for years, partner dies, fed takes nearly $400k away from the partner for taxes...that wouldn't have been levied if the partner had a penis. I'm sorry but that is fucked up, either the law is equal or its a sham and deciding to take a pile of money from a widow based on the sex of the corpse would be just as fucked up if they took it based on the skin color or religion of the corpse, that isn't right any way you slice it.

    • Re:Good ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by alfredo (18243) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @11:10AM (#44113721)
      Gay citizens are no different than Baptist citizens other than Baptist weren't born Baptist. Religion is a lifestyle choice, being gay is not. My sister chose to switch from Baptist to Catholic, my sister in law didn't choose to be gay.
  • What now? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @09:54AM (#44112453)

    Say you have a same-sex marriage in a state that recognizes it or a country that recognizes it. Now you move to Alabama. Are you unmarried? And can Alabama still discriminate against your marriage? Or does this just apply to the federal government?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Or does this just apply to the federal government?

      I believe this particular ruling only covers DOMA ... they are supposed to release other decisions which might weigh in on individual state bans.

      • Re:What now? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Antipater (2053064) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:29AM (#44113075)

        Or does this just apply to the federal government?

        I believe this particular ruling only covers DOMA ... they are supposed to release other decisions which might weigh in on individual state bans.

        More than that, this particular ruling only covers Section 3 of DOMA. I mentioned this in a post below, but it's going to get lost in the fuss. DOMA has two halves: Section 2, which allows a state to not recognize a same-sex marriage performed in another state, and Section 3, which defines marriage for the federal government as heterosexual. Only Section 3 was struck down. Section 2, which directly answers GP's question (correct, Alabama will not recognize your marriage), was not challenged and is still law.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Say you have a same-sex marriage in a state that recognizes it or a country that recognizes it. Now you move to Alabama. Are you unmarried? And can Alabama still discriminate against your marriage? Or does this just apply to the federal government?

      Seems like the Full Faith and Credit clause should apply:
      Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

      • Re:What now? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by operagost (62405) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:08AM (#44112687) Homepage Journal
        Ideally, that's what would happen. But we all know that the states selectively decide this: drivers' licenses are accepted, but firearm permits usually are not. This is especially amusing when you consider that politicians constantly remind us that driving is a privilege, while it's understood by most that keeping and bearing arms is a right (though what this means is subject to whim^H^H^H^H interpretation).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jarmihi (2589777)
      You are correct. Civil marriage is licensed by the state, and if the state you're in will not recognize a license from another state, you are not entitled to the benefits in that state.
      • Re:What now? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:12AM (#44112757)

        If they recognize other marriages from that state, they should not be able to pick and choose.

      • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:12AM (#44112763)

        I imagine driver licenses work much the same. If New Jersey decides everybody gets a license when they turn 18 even if they haven't taken any written or practical test, then other states can choose not to accept NJ driving licenses as valid. Thus if you got caught with a NJ license in another state, they could charge you as driving without a license.

        **NOTE: As far as I know, New Jersey does not just give everyone a license at 18. They have to find it in a Crackerjack box first.

        • Re:What now? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by operagost (62405) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:32AM (#44113115) Homepage Journal

          Actually, NJ is one of the more oppressive states IRT drivers' licenses. For one, you have to be 16 to even get a permit. Second, you have to have it for six months AND be at least 17 before you can even take the test. Third, your observer while you're under permit can't just be a legal adult: they have to be 21 (age discrimination) and have been a licensed driver for at least three years (understandable). Fourth, even once you have a PROBATIONARY license, which you must have for a YEAR before you get a real one, you CAN'T have anyone except family in the car EVEN IF YOU ARE AN 18 YEAR OLD LEGAL ADULT (age discrimination again)-- don't know what the environmental lobby thinks of this obvious detriment to carpooling. Fifth, the state is fond of using the license as a carrot for everything; in other words, there are about 90 different things a young person could screw up with that could delay getting their license: drinking under 21, a miscellaneous juvenile incident, mouthed off to a cop, etc.

          And people wonder why I moved to Pennsylvania 17 years ago.

    • Re:What now? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Antipater (2053064) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:20AM (#44112899)

      No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

      That's Section 2 of DOMA, which was not ruled on. Only Section 3 of DOMA was ruled unconstitutional. The above section, which decrees that one state does not have to uphold a same-sex marriage conducted in another state, is still law.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @09:57AM (#44112493) Journal

    Just for the sake of shits and giggles, I took screenshots of the three big cable networks (CNN, Fox and MSNBC) about half an hour ago when the first notice came out. I wanted to see how each would report on the announcement.

    As predicted, CNN and NBC had nice big, red banners claiming the Supreme Court had a ruling and results would be forthcoming.

    Fox, on the other hand, had no notice except for a small box on the right side of their web site which, if you didn't know what to look for, you would have missed.

    Now, half an hour later, the Fox headline rules the decision is a victory for gay marriage, NOT that the law was ruled unconstitutional.

    So the next time someone whines about the liberal bias in the media, kindly remind them of the twisting of facts by the conservative media.

    NOTE: I have a moderate leaning though I do have positions which some might consider on the far side of both political spectrums so this isn't about one or the other. Just the hypocrisy of those who claim bias.

    • by jaymz666 (34050) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @09:59AM (#44112509)

      At this point, anyone who doubts that Fox News is putting extremely heavy spin and lies into their "news" is just not paying attention. It's an entertainment network, not a news network.

    • by csumpi (2258986) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:07AM (#44112663)
      I don't get it. How is saying that this was a victory for gay marriage some sort of twisting the news? It _is_ a victory for gay marriage. That's what the whole thing was about. In fact it sounds like they gave you more info, because what does "DOMA ruled unconstitutional" mean to most people?

      A twist would've been FOX saying that the ruling hurts traditional family values. Or that we are all going to die.
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      To be fair, CNN says nothing about the ruling in regards to constitutionality either, just their breaking news banner and the artilce title which both state "victory for gay marriage". So it's not just Fox News.
    • by s.petry (762400)

      I hate to break the news to you (intentional pun?) but it's not just Fox twisting facts. Every major news agency, referred to as MSM (Main Stream Media) does the exact same thing. This includes ABC, CNN, NBC and FOX in all forms (I.E. MSNBC). The supreme court ruling that news is entertainment impacted all MSM stations, and entrenched their purpose as propaganda instead of public service journalists.

      Thankfully, there are still real journalists at work. You need to seek them out and read their articles,

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @09:58AM (#44112503) Journal

    Will the republicans finally pull the jesus buttplug out of their ass and start being conservatives and start getting rid of all the inheritance bullshit they've built up over the years to protect their vision of what a family is supposed to be?

  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:00AM (#44112547) Homepage Journal

    The "Left" once again upholds limited central government and states' rights. The "Right" once again argues (unsuccessfully) for central planning taking a larger role for the "common good" at the expense of individual liberty and states' rights to govern and set their own policies.

    Three cheers for the Left (i.e. conservatives) winning again!

    • by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @11:12AM (#44113753)
      It's not a left/right axis. There is also an up/down axis. Left/Right is economic freedom, Up/Down is social freedom. Being up on the social freedom axis means you support the government staying out of your bedroom. Being right on the economic freedom means you support the government staying out of how you run your business. In this way, the Republicans are Down/Right, the Democrats are Left/Up, Libertarians are Up/Right (I'm working from an American central point here, not a world center).
  • by jonnythan (79727) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:01AM (#44112555) Homepage

    This is great. The majority opinion repeatedly makes the point that DOMA stepped on states' toes specifically to HARM a certain group, instead of help it, and that was unconstitutional. The US shouldn't be in the business of denying rights to citizens that states want them to have.

    "DOMA’s avowed purpose and practical effect are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states."

    "When the State used its historic and essential authority to define the marital relation in this way, its role and its power in making the decision enhanced the recognition, dignity, and protection of the class in their own community. DOMA, because of its reach and extent, departs from this history and tradition of reliance on state law to define marriage"

    "DOMA seeks to injure the very class New York seeks to protect. By doing so it violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government."

    Anyway, this is great. People think that preventing gay marriage is somehow taking a stand against homosexuality or something. News flash: gay couples live as married couples whether you like it or not. The only thing banning the marriage certificate does is punish them for being gay, which is ridiculous beyond belief.

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:07AM (#44112667)

    If 2 or 3 or 10 consenting adults wish to share their lives, so be it. Beyond the emotional component of marriage, which the government can add no value, the rest should fall under contract law.

  • by josephtd (817237) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:10AM (#44112705)
    Again we see that the Courts are saying that citizen groups do not have standing to support laws placed on the books by their elected officials. Much as Obama refused to defend DOMA, the CA AG and Governor decided not to defend a duly passed statue. This is beyond the pale. IF you don't like a law, get it changed through the process outlined in the Federal and most State Constitutions. This imperial head of state nonsense must end. For the record, I have no objection to the outcome, I just feel there is too much wrong with the way these outcomes are coming about these days. You have no moral standing to complain about FISA, the NSA or the Patriot Act if you defend the way the executive branch in CA and the US acted and the manner SCOTUS came to this ruling.
    • by PPH (736903)

      What our current system does is place civil rights above majority or mob rule. It doesn't matter if you can muster 51% to pass a law either through your legislature or a citizen's initiative.

      Obama refused to defend DOMA because he judged that this law wouldn't stand a SCOTUS test and he didn't want to waste time and money on useless legal action that would be overturned. It appears that he judged correctly.

  • by Luciano Moretti (2887109) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:15AM (#44112809)
    Section 2 still stands, allowing states to not recognize same-sex marriages from other states. IMO a state with Same-sex marriage should pass a law where they don't recognize marriages from states that define marriage differently (AKA as "Between a man and a woman") to force the issue. Worst case you get a lot of new marriage license income as couples have to get remarried for tax/legal reasons.
  • by moeinvt (851793) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:27AM (#44113035)

    Voluntary relationships between consenting adults are none of the government's F****** business!

    It should be totally illegal for the government to discriminate against or give preferential treatment to anyone (including for tax or government benefit purposes) based on their personal relationships. Single people, married people, polygamists, homosexuals, heterosexuals or whomever, should all be EQUAL under the law.

  • Lawrence v. Texas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:27AM (#44113037) Homepage

    And today is exactly ten years since SCOTUS issued its Lawrence v. Texas [wikipedia.org] ruling, another landmark case in getting the government out of people's bedrooms.

  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:56AM (#44113521) Homepage Journal

    As an immigrant who came to the US under a K-1 fiance visa, DOMA has always seemed to me to be one of the very worst pieces of active Federal legislation.

    Gay citizens have never been able to sponsor their partners for immigration as my now wife did for me. If she happened to be a guy, we would probably be in a different country right now, even though I came here so she could take her dream job. Make no mistake, DOMA was designed to keep gays out of the country. It should never have been made law, and it should have been repealed long ago. It will be a shameful part in the history of the United States.

  • by Cutting_Crew (708624) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @11:01AM (#44113599)
    I see where the gay marriage ban in California will be overturned because the found that the people didnt have the right to appeal to a lower court. Why did the people do this? Because the AG refused to appeal because he didn't like the gay marriage ban. So what kind of precedent does this set? If the officials of the state don't appeal a ruling then the citizens are pretty much screwed? What kind of crap is that?

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous