The U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), ruling it is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution." PDF of entire opinion
The 5-4 decision announced June 26, 2013 states: "While the Fifth Amendment itself withdraws from Government the power to degrade or demean in the way this law does, the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment makes that Fifth Amendment right all the more specific and all the better understood and preserved."
The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Dissenting were Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
The decision paves the way for LGBT married couples to receive equal access to federal protections and benefits, including income taxes and Social Security benefits.
Secretary of Defense Hagel announced that as soon as possible U.S. military spouses will receive the same benefits regardless of sexual orientation.
The U.S. joins 14 other nations in recognizing same-sex marriage - Canada, Spain, Portugal, France, Netherlands, Iceland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, Uruguay, Argentina, New Zealand.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:
"The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court's decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act. The department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court's decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies.
"The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses -- regardless of sexual orientation -- as soon as possible. That is now the law and it is the right thing to do.
"Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country, and their qualifications to do so.
Today's ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve."
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
"Today is a day of joy for all of the loving, committed LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender)couples across America, including the more than 2,400 couples who married in my home state of Washington this year, and for all of us who respect and support them. Thanks to the LGBT and allied communities' commitment to achieving equality, today’s ruling is a true demonstration that the tide is turning, and it is turning rapidly across the country.
"This is a great day for the civil rights and marriage equality movement. Following this good news, I'm going to work with the administration and my colleagues in Congress to ensure that all the rights and federal benefits enjoyed by married couples are provided to LGBT couples as quickly as possible, including to unite bi-national LGBT couples who have been split apart by this discriminatory law.
"While there is much to celebrate today, the fight is not over and I will continue working until who a person loves or where they live, no longer determines their eligibility for the federal protections and responsibilities other married couples enjoy."
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02
"Equality had a good day today. “Starting today, legally married couples in Washington state will have their marriages recognized by their federal government.
"I am proud that Washington state voters led the charge for marriage equality, making our state one of the first to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.
"As we celebrate this decision, we must also rededicate ourselves to eliminating discrimination in all forms. Congress must pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Respect for Marriage Act, to make sure gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people receive equal protection under the law.
We must pass the paycheck fairness act, so women will finally earn equal pay for equal work. And we must fight to strengthen voting rights protections, so all Americans can exercise their right to a ballot."
State Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas)
"This is a great day for equality and yet another blow against intolerance. The highest court in the land has reaffirmed that all people are indeed created equal with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of whom they love.
"We knew when we passed marriage equality in Washington that not all loving couples would have the same opportunities when it came to federal benefits. Now because of today’s ruling, all couples in our state will enjoy the same federal marital benefits.
"I have shared with you before how very personally committed I am to this battle for absolute equality. That battle is not over, but as each barrier crumbles, each of us is closer to living in the sort of society that we aspire to be a part of, one that is truly tolerant and welcoming of all people. This should be an ultimate goal of every one of us.
"The Defense of Marriage Act was a relic from a time of intolerance and fear. It had no place in an America where gay and straight soldiers fight side-by-side for our freedom. A country where gay and straight parents raise wonderful, healthy children. A country that embraces equality and justice. The Defense of Marriage Act had no place in a country that has seen 12 states embrace full marriage equality.
"I'm proud to live in a state that has led this charge.”
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