This morning, before I brewed my super-essential pot of coffee, I checked my Facebook and Twitter only to be surprised by the bursts of celebratory and jovial statuses and Tweets. Today is a monumental day, you guys. Today the Supreme Court finally overturned DOMA on a close 5-4 vote and deemed it unconstitutional. Today, we made history! What is DOMA?
In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage for legal and financial reasons such as: Social Security survivors’ benefits, insurance, benefits, immigration and tax filing. Furthermore, Section 3 of this law define(d) marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and a spouse as “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” Up until today.
DOMA has not only federally disabled same-sex marriage, but created a jolting imbalance and striking inequality between homosexual and heterosexual couples. Although civil unions were allegedly recognized as alternative partnerships in a handful of places (New Jersey, Washington, Oregon), these did not come with the same benefits as marriage did. Much like the “separate but equal” laws up until 1964, civil unions forced same-sex couples into a separate institution from marriage, which was deemed as more of a “recognized” union between two people. Today, only 12 states allow gay marriage, and these marriages are only functional within the particular state. Same with civil unions and domestic partnerships. Essentially, up until this point, states have had the right to decide whether same-sex marriage and union is legal within their boundaries. Hopefully, this will all change, now.
“[DOMA] imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. 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 marriage of others,” Justice Anthoy Kennedy states.
So What Does This Mean?
Since the Supreme Court decided to overturn DOMA, this means that the married homosexual couples in the 12 states that have recognized gay marriage are now finally given the same federal benefits and regulations that heterosexual couples have. So, yesterday, if a couple were to move from Vermont to Alabama, they would lose all of their rights as a married couple because technically Alabama doesn’t have to follow Vermont’s state’s rules because the illegality of gay marriage would still be constitutional.
This is a GIGANTIC step towards marriage equality. Now, states are going to have to really put up a fight if they want to keep same-sex marriage illegal, since DOMA has been deemed unconstitutional.
There’s More Good News.
The court dismissed an appeal of a lower court’s ruling on California’s Prop 8 (a ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage in California) on standing. This dismissal means Prop 8 will remain overturned and same-sex marriage will be legal in California again. Another one for you, California. You go, California!
Awesome Celebrities Speak Up About the Destruction of DOMA:
“What a momentous day. All Americans are equal, no matter who you love. #LoveIsLove” –John Stamos
“If you’re gay married in California your gay marriage is now legal. Good. #allmarriageisabitgay” –Russell Brand
“Congrats to the Supreme Court for striking down the discriminatory ‘Defense of Marriage Act’. #EqualRights” – Kevin Zegers
“Supreme court: same sex marriage can resume in California So awesome!” – Ellen Page
“.@daxshepard1 will you marry me? Xo #marriageequality #loveislove” – Kristen Bell