The long awaited Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) decision came today with a 5-4 vote to appeal. What is considered the start of one of the biggest wins in human rights in recent history, the decision to strike down DOMA will technically ensure equal rights for benefits for same-sex couples. Until now, same-sex couples were not treated equally under law in regard to such matters as hospital rights, tax forms, health benefits, etc. The decision also indicates a change in federal judicial policy toward LGBTQ rights; a positive outcome for many who live in states that infringed on those rights. While a decision on California’s Proposition 8 is still in the works, the Supreme Court’s decision to rule DOMA unconstitutional is a large stepping stone for future rulings on the matter. In the documents, the court has stated:
“DOMA is unconsti¬tutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person pro¬tected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution”blockquote>
The Fifth Amendment is referencing due process law, and prohibiting unequal treatment or protection under law. The court continues, ruling that denying these rights and benefits are deeming the marriage of two members of the same sex as “lesser than” that of a straight couple, which is strictly guarded by this liberty. The ruling is therefore entered in order to maintain the dignity of those individuals.
Hope continues to grow as the U.S. now waits on the ruling regarding proposition 8. As DOMA only reflects the protection of married couples, the next barrier will be allowing same-sex marriage across the United States. Now the fight for the real Defense of Marriage act comes into play. If same-sex marriages are now considered to be equal under the law, than the right to be married is a necessary component of upholding this right. In the words of the Court,
It is so ordered.
By such order the land of the free and the home of the brave spends at least one day living up to its mantra.
By: Courtney Kidd, LMSW
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