Dumping DOMA

GH130703

Dated 2011 | Elise Amendola/AP | 14301

The Defense of Marriage Act known as DOMA is a US federal law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman for federal and inter-state recognition purposes and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. Since then there has been a consistent and growing campaign by the gay community to have it overturned, and to allow gay marriage.

A number of states, including Vermont, New York and Connecticut have asked the federal appeals court to rule against DOMA stating that the federal law is unconstitutional.

President Clinton and key legislators have changed their views and advocated DOMA’s repeal. Section 3 of DOMA has been found unconstitutional in eight federal courts, including the First and Second Circuit Court of Appeals, on issues including bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes, and immigration.

“I have come to believe that DOMA is … in fact, incompatible with our Constitution,” Clinton wrote in the Washington Post. Clinton wrote that it was “a very different time” in 1996 and that Americans since then have shifted their thinking. “These couples cannot file their taxes jointly, take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse or receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees,” Clinton wrote. “Yet they pay taxes, contribute to their communities and, like all couples, aspire to live in committed, loving relationships, recognized and respected by our laws. … Reading those words today, I know now that, even worse than providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory,” the former president wrote. “It should be overturned.”

On March 1, 2013 the Obama Administration urged the Supreme Court to reinstate same-sex marriage in California and called for broad constitutional protections that ultimately could allow such unions nationwide.

In June 2013 the US Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional by 5 votes to 4.

Page amended 3 July 2013


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