High Court Strikes Down DOMA

Broad ruling declares marriage benefits a matter of equal protection

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 26, 2013 9:19 AM CDT | Updated Jun 26, 2013 9:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act today, in a broad ruling arguing that it violates the Constitution's equal protection clause. The decision was 5-4, with Anthony Kennedy joining the court's more liberal justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan), and writing the majority opinion. "The federal statute is invalid," he writes, in a quote pulled by ScotusBlog, "for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity."

The ruling only applies to couples married in states that have legalized same-sex marriage. (The court today declined to rule on the Proposition 8 case, which could have made same-sex marriage legal nationwide.) In his fiery dissent—which he read from the bench—Antonin Scalia complained that "by formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition," the Wall Street Journal reports. For more on today's cases, click here.

Activists wait for a ruling on same sex marriage at the Supreme Court in Washington, June 26, 2013.
Activists wait for a ruling on same sex marriage at the Supreme Court in Washington, June 26, 2013.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Vin Testa of Washington waves a rainbow flag in support of gay rights outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, June 25, 2013.
Vin Testa of Washington waves a rainbow flag in support of gay rights outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, June 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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