In a prelude to its decision on California's own anti-gay marriage law, the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
In a 5-4 vote DOMA was overruled. The court says: "DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty."
The decision involved a New York woman who had to pay six figures in taxes for taking over the estate of her deceased partner, cash that wouldn't have been paid had the pair been a married, heterosexual couple.
It appears that the ruling means the federal government will have to recognize same-sex marriages when it comes to taxes and government benefits.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion:
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The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.
Those voting against overturning DOMA: Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Read the ruling here.