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US Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Marriage Provision


Gay rights advocate Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court at sun up in Washington, June 26, 2013.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the federal government must recognize marriages between people of the same sex in states that legally recognize those unions.

The court's decision invalidated a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied legally married gay Americans a range of federal tax, health and pension benefits otherwise available to married heterosexual couples.

The decision only applies to the U.S. government and does not require individual states to recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in other states.

U.S. States That Legalize Gay Marriage

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington, DC
Same-sex marriage is legal, or soon will be, in 12 states and the District of Columbia.

The justices' decision on a 5-4 vote was revealed in their last session before the court's summer break.

The federal marriage law, known by its acronym DOMA, defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The law passed Congress and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

In 2011, the Obama administration abandoned its defense of the law, but continued to enforce it. President Barack Obama subsequently endorsed gay marriage in 2012.
In a separate decision issued Wednesday, the court cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriages in the state of California. It did so by ruling that defenders of the state's ban on gay marriage, known as Proposition 8, did not have the right to appeal lower court decisions striking down the measure.





Click here to read the Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8
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