The long awaited decision regarding same-sex marriage was issued by the Supreme Court this week, and the verdict is that they should enjoy the same right rights as opposite sex couples do. The decision opens the doors to more than a thousand federal benefits that married couples enjoy but that same-sex couples were previously denied. Such benefits include things like survivor benefits and immigration, federal tax perks for being married and a slew of others. However, it should be noted that the ruling only applies to the 12 states and District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage has already been legalized by voters.
“This is enormous,” said Arline Isaacson from the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. “The right to marry is not only critical socially and societally [sic], but it also has huge economic implications.”
The ruling effectively does away with a ruling that was called the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), declaring it unconstitutional and ruling that it no longer applies to couples of the same sex who are married in states that have legalized it.
In California – where celebrators were still shouting joy about the shooting down of Prop. 8 by the Supreme Court – they had more than one thing to celebrate. Five years after the fact, these same-sex couples can now be legally wed and enjoy the same federal benefits as other married couples do, but without DOMA preventing them from doing so.
Interestingly enough, the high court is divided between conservative and liberal justices, and it was farfetched at best to see such a victorious outcome in favor of the LGBT movement. All told, however, the ruling only impacts about 30 percent of Americans – the ones who live in the 12 states where same-sex marriage has been legalized. As for the other 37 states, political action still needs to be carried out to legalize this type of marriage.
“These decisions underscore the emergence of two Americas. In one, LGBT citizens are nearing full equality. In the other, our community lacks even the most basic protections,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay campaigning body. “Everywhere that injustice still prevails, we will fight for justice.”
While en route to South Africa aboard his presidential Air Force One, Obama was apprised of the high court’s ruling.
“The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts,” Obama said. “When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free [sic].”
Not everyone was jumping for joy.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkin voiced his opinion. “While we are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the court today did not impose the sweeping nationwide redefinition of natural marriage that was sought,” he said.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage 5-4, with four conservatives dissenting and five liberals contending.
Justice Kennedy issued his statement following the decision: “The principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage,” Kennedy wrote. “This requires the court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.”