Landmark rulings by the Supreme Court mean the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages and they can resume in California.
In its first decision of the day, on June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA.) The vote was split 5-4.
DOMA's Section 3 defined marriage as between a man and a woman for the purposes of over 1,000 federal programs and benefits. The ruling means that same-sex marriages, conducted in states that allow it, are now recognized as legal by the federal government.
The repeal of Section 3 also means that U.S. citizens with same-sex spouses who aren't citizens will now be able to apply for permanent resident visas (green cards) on their behalf.
"DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty… [It is] unconstitutional as a deprivation of equal liberty of persons that is protected by 5th Amendment."
Justice Antonin Scalia read a lengthy dissent from the bench, saying the court's opinion and jurisdiction "spring from the same diseased root: an exalted notion of the role of this court in American democratic society."
"I applaud the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it."
Obama said he has instructed the attorney general and his cabinet to review federal statues so that the repeal of DOMA can be swiftly enacted.
The Pentagon said same-sex spouses of members of the military would be offered a range of federal benefits beginning in September. The Defense Dept. said it "remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and their families, are treated fairly and equally."
Same-sex marriage opponents petitioned California's Supreme Court July 12 to honor Prop. 8 -- the state's 2008 gay marriage ban. They said the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling that the ban's backers had no "standing" in the case didn't reinstate lower court rulings invalidating the ban.
Copyright 2014 Reuters
The first same-sex wedding since Proposition 8 was struck down took place at 4:45pm on June 28 in San Francisco. Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case, were wed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris in San Francisco City Hall.
"I wanna go to Stonewall right now! [Calling a friend] Please get married right away!"
Windsor celebrated the news in the apartment of her lawyer Roberta Kaplan. While there President Obama called her and she thanked him for supporting their cause.
Copyright 2014 Reuters
Windsor, 83, filed the lawsuit challenging DOMA after her partner of 40 years, Thea Clara Spyer, died in 2009. The couple were married in Canada and when Spyer died, Windsor was left with a $350,000 tax bill she would not have to face if their marriage were recognized by the U.S.
The Obama administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court on Feb. 22, urging it to strike down DOMA. On Mar. 7, Bill Clinton wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post declaring that DOMA, which he signed as president, was unconstitutional and should be repealed.
The lawyers who helped overturn California's same-sex marriage ban, known as Proposition 8, have teamed up again to take up a new case in Virginia. The case involves a couple who were denied marriage licenses and a couple from California whose marriage is not recognized by Virginia.
In light of the rulings, a group of 60 House lawmakers will introduce a bill to protect individuals and institutions who believe marriage is between "one man and one woman" from government discrimination. It does not seek to overturn the court decision, but rather protect tax-exempt statuses. So far, only 2 Democrats support the bill.
The Supreme Court on Jan. 6, 2014, blocked same-sex marriages in Utah until a federal appeal in Denver has been resolved. In their order, the justices did not explain the reasoning behind this action. Utah had asked the court Dec. 31 to stay a Dec. 20 ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry in the state.
Charles Cooper, the attorney who argued for California's ban on same-sex marriage, says his view on the issue are evolving. Cooper, who offered his remarks in a forthcoming book, has a stepdaughter who will marry another woman in June.