Supreme Court strikes down DOMA - CBS News
Another step in the right direction.The gay rights movement saw a significant victory at the Supreme Court Wednesday, where the justices struck down part of a law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court struck down Section 3 of the 17-year-old Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a provision of the law that denies federal benefits -- like Social Security benefits or the ability to file joint tax returns -- to same-sex couples legally married.
"DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.
The impact of the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor, is clear for the nation's approximately 130,000 legally married same-sex couples who were previously denied federal benefits under Section 3. That provision impacts around 1,100 federal laws, including veterans' benefits, family medical leave and tax laws.
DOMA, passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996, was challenged by Edith Windsor, who lived with her partner Thea Spyer in New York for more than four decades. They finally married in 2007, and when Spyer died in 2009, she left Windsor her estate. Because DOMA didn't recognize their marriage -- even though the state of New York did -- the IRS hit Windsor with $363,053 in estate taxes.