In Historic Rulings, Court Rejects Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples
(Washington, June 26, 2013) - In two profoundly important rulings today, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of the federal, so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional, and also found that the proponents of California's discriminatory Proposition 8 lacked legal standing to appeal a lower court ruling striking down the amendment. Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Legal Director Jon Davidson:
"Two ugly chapters in the history of our nation and of California are finally over. DOMA's core has been struck down, and the California Constitution will no longer compel unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their families. This is a great day for LGBT people and for our country.
"Exactly 10 years ago today, the Supreme Court issued an historic ruling striking down state laws that branded gay people as criminals. Today, it once again struck down a law passed by legislators who sat in moral judgment against LGBT people, this time condemning them in the eyes of the entire nation. DOMA was unconstitutional when Congress wrote it and, with today's ruling, its bruising hand has been lifted.
"This is a huge victory for married same-sex couples and their families because it will affect almost every facet of life from health care to retirement to taxes.
"The Supreme Court also restored the freedom to marry in California so that lesbians and gay men will once again be able to marry the person they love. Prop 8 has been thoroughly tested in court and lost because it's so clearly harmful to same-sex couples and their families. The Supreme Court recognized that individuals who oppose marriage for same-sex couples lack standing because they are not harmed in any way when those couples can marry - something at the heart of the matter that we have been saying all along.
"The two decisions the Supreme Court issued today came in United States v. Windsor, the DOMA challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Edie Windsor, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 challenge brought by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER).
"At Lambda Legal, we are popping champagne corks and offer our congratulations to the courageous plaintiffs in these cases, and our thanks to the ACLU and their co-counsel at Paul Weiss and to Ted Olson and David Boies, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, for securing these tremendous victories.
"Key details remain to be worked out over the coming months, including the implications for legally married same-sex couples living in states that deny their true marital status. Lambda Legal and our sister organizations will work with Obama Administration officials and will continue to pursue legal and administrative actions as may help to clarify these matters and to implement both of today's judgments against discrimination."
Lambda Legal has Legal Help Desk staff ready to help answer the many questions married same-sex couples will have about how these rulings affect them. Visit: lambdalegal.org/help or call 866-542-8336.
Windsor was one of four cases to challenge the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA that came before the Supreme Court, including U.S. Office of Personnel Management v. Golinski, the challenge out of the 9th Circuit brought by Lambda Legal and Morrison & Foerster on behalf of federal court employee Karen Golinski, who was denied family health coverage for her spouse Amy Cunninghis. The other two cases are Gill et. al. v. Office of Personnel Management in the First Circuit and Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management in the Second Circuit, both brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
Lambda Legal and GLAD filed joint amicus briefs in both the Windsor and Perry cases after the Supreme Court granted review.
Lambda Legal and other civil and LGBT rights organizations have been fighting for same-sex couples to have the freedom to marry for decades - including the first historic victory in California in 2008. Lambda Legal first fought for marriage equality in Hawaii almost 20 years ago, won a unanimous decision for marriage from the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009, and has ongoing marriage lawsuits in New Jersey, Illinois and Nevada.