If you watched any television news or stumbled upon the front page of any newspaper last week, chances are you know that the United States Supreme Court issued important rulings related to gay marriage. Two opinions were released.
In one the Court found that defendants in a case challenging lower court rulings on California’s gay ban amendment (Prop 8) did not have standing. That decision effectively ends the ban in that state, though its ruling will not technically have effect elsewhere in the country.
The second case was a bit more far reaching. In that decision (U.S. v. Windsor, view opinion here), the Court found that Section 3 of the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) violated the U.S. Constitution. This section of the law, passed in 1996, prohibited the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples, regardless of whether those unions were legal in their individual states. This law therefore prevented same sex couples from many different benefits and obligations associated with inheritance rights, Social Security benefits, tax privileges, immigration rights, and well over 1,100 others–including many that touch on the civil justice system.