Moises Fuertes/Contributing Writer
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional; DOMA was enacted in 1996.
Section 3 of DOMA defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, and legally defined “spouse” to be used only if it was describing a person of the opposite sex in a marriage.
How times have changed.
Since DOMA passed in 1996, gay rights activists have fought for equality pervasively. Overall, there has been an enormous growth in tolerance and overall acceptance of same-sex relationships since the 2000’s. Today, 13 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage.
With the ruling on June 26, the gay community has received an enormous victory. Even though striking down section 3 of DOMA doesn’t legalize same-sex marriage throughout the United States, it does equalize same-sex marriage in terms of spousal benefits in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
“It seems pretty clear that legally married same-sex couples where one member is employed by the federal government are entitled to spousal benefits, just the same as any other married couple,” said Dylan Matthews of The Washington Post. In the same article, Matthews mentions that it will probably be trickier for other spousal benefits, particularly if the same-sex married couple lives in a state where same-sex marriage has not been legalized.
Although laws will have to be clarified –especially since the Supreme Court neglected to answer the broader point on U.S-wide same-sex marriage– the fact that such an important section of DOMA was found to be unconstitutional is no small victory for the gay community.
There is a strong comparison between the marriage equality movement and the civil rights movement, and for good reason. Both of these movements have a foundation in equality for all. If history is any indication, equality will come one step at a time. For the LGBT community, this happens to be a huge one because it validates their plight.
Democracy is a wonderful thing.
1. “Gay marriage ruling: Supreme Court finds DOMA unconstitutional,” via Los Angeles Times
2. “The Supreme Court struck down part of DOMA. Here’s what you need to know,” via The Washington Post