In Historic Rulings, Supreme Court Rejects Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples

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June 26, 2013
Legal Director Jon W. Davidson

In two profoundly important rulings today, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional, and also found that the proponents of California's discriminatory Proposition 8 lacked legal standing to appeal a lower court ruling striking down the amendment.  

Two ugly chapters in the history of our nation and of California are finally over. This is a great day for LGBT people and for our country.

Exactly 10 years ago today, the Supreme Court issued a historic ruling striking down state laws that branded gay people as criminals. Today, it once again struck down a law passed by legislators who sat in moral judgment against LGBT people, this time condemning them in the eyes of the entire nation. DOMA was unconstitutional when Congress wrote it and, with today's ruling, its bruising hand has been lifted.

This is a huge victory for married same-sex couples and their families because it will affect almost every facet of life from health care to retirement to taxes.

The Supreme Court also restored the freedom to marry in California so that lesbians and gay men will once again be able to marry the person they love. Prop 8 has been thoroughly tested in court and lost because it's so clearly harmful to same-sex couples and their families. The Supreme Court recognized that individuals who oppose marriage for same-sex couples lack standing because they are not harmed in any way when those couples can marry—something at the heart of the matter that we have been saying all along.

At Lambda Legal, we are popping champagne corks and offer our congratulations to the courageous plaintiffs in these cases, and our thanks to the ACLU and their co-counsel at Paul Weiss and to Ted Olson and David Boies, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, for securing these tremendous victories.

Key details remain to be worked out over the coming months, including the implications for legally married same-sex couples living in states that deny their true marital status. Lambda Legal and our sister organizations will work with Obama Administration officials and will continue to pursue legal and administrative actions as may help to clarify these matters and to implement both of today's judgments against discrimination.