June 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a significant blow for traditional marriage in the United States, the country's Supreme Court has ruled this morning that a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. At the same time, the court has declined to rule directly on the constitutionality of gay “marriage” itself, somewhat limiting the impact of the decision.
A part of the Clinton-era DOMA that prohibited “married” homosexual couples from receiving federal benefits was struck down 5-4. The majority decision was authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy. He was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
“DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty,” says the decision. “It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper.”
“The federal statute is invalid,” it continues, “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.
“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.”
The dissenting Justices were John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Scalia read part of his dissent from the bench, declaring that the Court shouldn't have ruled on the DOMA case.
“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,” he wrote.
President Obama immediately welcomed the ruling, sending out a tweet on his account saying, “Today's DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for #MarriageEquality. #LoveIsLove.”
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Tony Perkins, the President of the conservative Family Research Council, said that his organization is “disappointed” with the ruling, but added, “We are encouraged that the court learned from the disaster of Roe v. Wade and refrained from redefining marriage for the entire country.”
“Time is not on the side of those seeking to create same-sex 'marriage,'” said Perkins. “As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify.”
In a statement, Human Life International President Shenan J. Boquet said that no matter what the Court decides, God’s definition of marriage has not, and will not change, and must continue to be defended.
“Since marriage is an institution that predates any government, the nature and definition of marriage were never in doubt, and thus could not justly be changed by any court or vote,” said Father Boquet. “Marriage still is, and has always been, a covenant by which one man and one woman establish a partnership for life that is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.”
The case was brought forward by plaintiff Edie Windsor, 84, who sued the federal government after the Internal Revenue Service denied her request for a refund of the $363,000 in federal estate taxes she paid after her partner, Thea Spyer, died in 2009.
Besides codifying the definition of marriage in federal statutes, DOMA protects states from having to recognize as valid within their own jurisdiction any same-sex “marriage” contracted in other states. That section of DOMA remains in force.
While under normal circumstances the U.S. Department of Justice is responsible for defending federal laws in court, in this case the Obama administration declined to do so. Instead, the administration filed papers aruging that the law is unconstitutional.
In an unusual move the U.S. House of Representatives stepped up to fill the void and defend the law.