High court strikes down federal marriage provision
Posted at: 06/26/2013 10:06 AM
| Updated at: 06/26/2013 2:51 PM
By: Associated Press | WHEC.com
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
The court invalidated a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people. The vote was 5-4.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.
Same-sex marriage has been adopted by 12 states and the District of Columbia. Another 18,000 couples were married in California during a brief period when same-sex unions were legal there.
The court has yet to release its decision on California's ban on same-sex marriage.
"Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways," Kennedy said.
"DOMA's principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal," he said.
He was joined by the court's four liberal justices.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Scalia read his dissent aloud. Scalia said the court should not have decided the case.
But, given that it did, he said, "we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation."
Senator Kirsten Gillbrand issued a statement today saying, “Today is a historic day for our country on its long march towards upholding the fundamental values this country was founded upon of fairness, equality and justice. I am overjoyed the Supreme Court has ruled to end the discrimination that had been enshrined into U.S. law. Marriage is the true foundation for strong families. Every loving, committed couple deserves the basic human right to get married, start a family, and be treated equally under the law. No politician from this day forward should try to stand in the way of this fact. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled DOMA is unconstitutional, Congress must do its job and get this corrosive law off the books so there is certainty for all loving committed couples across state lines. I promise to work hard to pass the Respect for Marriage Act and finally put the discriminatory DOMA policy into the dustbin of history where it belongs.”
The Rev. Jason J. McGuire, President of New Yorker's Family Research Foundation, issued a statement saying, "New Yorker's Family Research Foundation is deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has failed to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act. Under any fair and reasonable reading of the Constitution, the federal government has the freedom to recognize marriage as an opposite-sex relationship, regardless of whether or not an individual state sets forth a different definition of marriage. There is a rational basis for government to continue to recognize the definition of marriage that has existed throughout the history of the United States. The public purpose of marriage is to bring men and women together to create stable, intact family structures in which each child can be raised by her own mother and father. That purpose is hindered-not furthered-by same-sex 'marriage.'"
Governor Cuomo issued a statement saying, "Today's decisions by the Court are groundbreaking civil rights victories for the LGBT community and a major step forward in our efforts to achieve full marriage equality in this nation. Two years ago, New York became the largest state to enact marriage equality, and since then we have seen a growing recognition across the country that all citizens deserve equal rights under the law, regardless of sexual orientation. From the Stonewall Riots 44 years ago this week, to the passage of marriage equality in New York, to today's decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act that originated from a case brought by a New York resident, this state has been at the forefront of this movement. It is my hope that today's breakthrough decisions will propel our nation forward and finally allow all Americans to be granted the same rights and protections under the law."
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter said, “As one of only 67 members of Congress who voted against DOMA in 1996, I am delighted that the Supreme Court has finally struck down this discriminatory act, ruling that same-sex marriages are equal in every way,” Rep. Slaughter said. “I am also delighted that our LGBT friends in California will no longer be barred from marrying the one they love. The court’s narrow decision on California’s Prop 8, however, means that same-sex couples in 38 states are still barred from equal marriage rights. I will not stop advocating for our LGBT friends until they are granted full equality in every state in our union.”
NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said, "The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act corrects a grievous wrong that unjustly enshrined
discrimination in our nation’s laws. In New York State, we celebrate that everyone has the right to marry whomever we so choose. For those who have sacrificed and suffered to ensure that this day came to pass, I commend your perseverance. Each one of us deserves equal respect and equal protection under the law."
Mayor Tom Richards issued a statement saying, “I want to applaud the Supreme Court for today's ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissing a case that would have supported California's Proposition 8. With these rulings, we have now confirmed that marriage is a civil right that should be available to everyone, along with the other benefits that all Americans enjoy. Denying such an important right to a group of citizens would only serve to divide this great country. Today's ruling places us on a path of unity, which is where America has always found its greatest strength.”
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester says it is in accord with the following statement by His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
"Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California's Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance. Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father. Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God's wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it. When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage - the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife - he pointed back to "the beginning" of God's creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity. Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court's decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified."