The Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. Moments later, the Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by taking no stance on Prop 8.
DOMA IS DEAD
DOMA was struck down by a 5-4 vote. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.
"The federal government cannot disparage marriages recognized by the states," the ruling said.
The court's ruling states that legally-married, same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as opposite sex couples.
Chants of "DOMA is Dead" erupted outside the Supreme Court as news of the decision was released Wednesday morning.
The court's 5-4 vote leaves in place the initial trial court ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. The opinion said the defenders California's same-sex marriage ban had no right to appeal lower court rulings.
"We have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit," said Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion.
The decision means same-sex marriage will be available in California in locations where court clerks take the position that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"(The Supreme Court) has righted a wrong, and our country is better off for it." - President Obama
"This is a big step toward true marriage equality in our country," - Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
"Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted." Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
"I'm very happy that the U.S. Supreme Court found DOMA unconstitutional, and that we're now closer toward ensuring marriage equality for every American. Our country is starting to understand that it's not about what a family looks like: it's about their love and commitment to one another." - Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)
"Historic. Groundbreaking. Momentous. Huge. Whatever words you're using, today is all of those things & more." - Minnesotans United communications director Jake Loesch
5 REASONS THE SUPREME COURT STRUCK DOWN DOMA
"DOMA's principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency."
"DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their state, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities. By creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same state, DOMA forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law, thus diminishing the stability and predictability of basic personal relations the state has found it proper to acknowledge and protect."
3. EXTRA BURDEN
"Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways. By its great reach, DOMA touches many aspects of married and family life, from the mundane to the profound. It prevents same-sex married couples from obtaining government healthcare benefits they would otherwise receive."
4. FINANCIAL HARM
"DOMA also brings financial harm to children of same-sex couples. It raises the cost of health care for families by taxing health benefits provided by employers to their workers' same-sex spouses. It denies or reduces benefits allowed to families upon the loss of a spouse and parent, benefits that are an integral part of family security."
5. DEPRIVATION OF RESPONSIBILITY
"DOMA divests married same-sex couples of the duties and responsibilities that are an essential part of married life and that they in most cases would be honored to accept were DOMA not in force. For instance, because it is expected that spouses will support each other as they pursue educational opportunities, federal law takes into consideration a spouse's income in calculating a student's federal financial aid eligibility. Same-sex married couples are exempt from this requirement."
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Scalia read his opinion out loud, saying the Supreme Court should not have decided the case. Despite the decision, he said "we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation."
STATE OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY
Marriage equality has been adopted by 12 states and the District of Columbia. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed the Freedom to Marry Act into law on May 14.
The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law in 1996 during Bill Clinton's presidency. Since its adoption, many lawmakers – and Clinton himself -- have renounced their support of the legislation.
Republican Sen. Rod Grams and Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone both voted in favor of DOMA in 1996, as did 7 of the state's 8 representatives. Rep. Martin Sabo, a Democrat, was the only member of Minnesota's delegation to vote no.