It is a good day for my family and many other same-sex couples across America. Today the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and overturned the 17-year old law that banned same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits and otherwise being recognized under federal law.
Thirteen states and the District of Columbia already recognize gay marriage, although until now, married same-sex couples in these states still were not eligible for federal benefits, had to fill out separate federal tax returns, pay taxes on inheritance left by a deceased spouse, and many, many other injustices.
The Supreme Court said that DOMA was a “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.” For me, this decision means I won’t have to pay for health insurance out of pocket anymore. I am finally entitled to spousal benefits through my spouse’s job in the federal government. It will also make filing our federal tax returns a heck of a lot easier and more fair.
But this isn’t the only good news of the day. The Supreme Court also dismissed an appeal on the Proposition 8 case, in which a California’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage had been ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. In this ruling, the Supreme Court said that private parties do not have the “standing” to defend the constitutionality of a state statute. In other words, because it was dismissed on a “lack of jurisdiction technicality,” and not on constitutional grounds, the ruling only affects California and leaves other states’ bans intact. Too bad, but still great news for Californians and for our nation!