June 26, 2013 was an incredible day for same-sex couples and all supporters of marriage equality. The Supreme Court decided two cases that result in the Federal Government recognizing same-sex marriage and allowing for marriage equality.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) federally banned recognition of marriage between same-sex couples. The Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of this Act is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of an individual’s Fifth Amendment rights. Although this decision does not require any state to allow gay marriage, it does mean that same-sex couples who are legally married and live in states that recognize gay marriage will be treated as married by the federal government and afforded the same rights and responsibilities as other married couples.
However, despite this important ruling, there are still some limitations as the Court restricted its decision to marriage. This means that federal benefits and responsibilities associated with marriage will still not extend to couples in a State Registered Domestic Partnership or Civil Union.
California’s Prop 8 effectively repealed marriage for same-sex couples, even though it had previously been legally recognized. Lower courts in California had ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The supporters of Prop 8 appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse this lower court ruling. However, the Supreme Court decided that it did not have standing to hear the case, restoring the ability for same-sex couples to get legally married in California again.
What the Court’s Ruling Didn’t Affect
Although the Court’s ruling was a victory for some same-sex couples and supporters of marriage equality, it did nothing for others living in certain states. Marriage is still only legal in 13 states and the District of Columbia. This means that same-sex couples in 30 other states cannot legally get married. In essence, this important Court ruling still provides no relief from discrimination for same-sex couples living in these 30 states.
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