The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday by a 5-4 vote that DOMA, the law barring federal recognition of same sex marriages legalized by individual states is unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy issued the majority opinion of the court. “The federal statute is invalid. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer joined Justice Kennedy, while Justices Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Scalia dissented.
For gay and lesbian couples in the specific states with laws affecting their rights to be legally married, sentiments were high at the courtroom. Many members sitting in the audience were in tears as Justice Kennedy gave the majority opinion of the court.
The decision was closely decided. The Defense of Marriage Act, signed by former president Clinton, and defended by the Obama administration was finally found unconstitutional. The court’s ruling indicated that the state will have the most relevant power and will “use its historic and essential authority to define the marital relation, enhancing the dignity and protection of that class in their own community,” according to the Huffington post.
This decision couldn’t come at a better time for those gay and lesbian individuals who may see marriage in their future. In 2011 New York state passed the Marriage Equality Act, and this Thursday starts the 7-day NYC gay pride festival. There is no better time to rejoice.
In California proposition 8 was declared invalid. The Huffington Post noted that “by a 5-4 vote, the justices held in Hollingsworth v Perry that the traditional marriage activists who put Proposition 8 on California ballots in 2008 did not have the constitutional authority or standing to defend the law in federal courts after the state refused to appeal its loss at trial.” No precedent was set, as the lower district court’s decision was upheld, and so the Supreme Court is off the hook. No overarching federal decision has been yet made on the subject.
Justice Roberts commented that the Supreme Court has never “upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here.” Justice Roberts was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Scalia, Breyer, and Kagan. Dissenting justices included Justice Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and Sotomayor. Proposition 8 is now shut down, as the activists defending the law were seen to not have the legal standing to defend the law, and now gays can resume marrying in the state of California.