DOMA unconstitutional, MN couples will share same rights - KMSP-TV

DOMA unconstitutional, MN couples will share same rights

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An early photo of Edie Windsor and her late spouse Thea Clara Spyer An early photo of Edie Windsor and her late spouse Thea Clara Spyer

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 -- that means 13 states plus the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.


"There are 1,138 federal rights and benefits and there are 515 state rights and benefits, and all of these will be available for same-sex couples and their families as of August 1 when marriages are legal for same-sex couples in Minnesota," Ann Kanerroth, executive director of Project 515, a leading group behind the same-sex marriage push in Minnesota.

The Supreme Court ruling means married same-sex couples will now reap the same benefits as other married couples, including:

-Social security survivor benefits

-Immigration rights

-Family and medical leave

-Military spousal benefits

If Minnesota hadn't granted all Minnesotans the freedom to marry, Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling would have had no bearing in the state.

"For same sex couples, those protections haven't been there. They've never been there. And now, they will be," Kanerroth said.


The case was brought by 84-year-old Edie Windsor who was legally married in New York but was hit with a hefty federal estate tax to the tune of $360,000 dollars when her legal spouse Thea Clara Spyer died four years ago. Now, she'll get a refund.


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 Supreme Court has no authority when it comes to the nature of marriage. That authority belongs to the creator." – Rev. Robert Schenk

"They attacked something that they have no jurisdiction over whatsoever: The foundational unit of our society, which is marriage." – Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

1996 VOTE

The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law in 1996 during Bill Clinton's presidency. Three months ago, he wrote an editorial saying it should be overturned.

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.


The Obama administration said two years ago it was unconstitutional, and on Wednesday, the President hailed the ruling, calling DOMA "discrimination enshrined in law."



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