In a 5-4 ruling in United States v. Windsor, the court struck down a provision of the 17-year-old Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies federal benefits -- like Immigration benefits -- to same-sex couples legally married.
"DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. Kennedy was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
At the same time, the court ruled 5-4 that the defendants in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, which considered the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban (called Proposition 8), have no standing in court.
Supporters of Prop. 8 brought the case to the Supreme Court after a lower court struck down the law but California's governor and attorney general declined to defend it. By dismissing the case on procedural grounds, the court passed up the opportunity to issue a significant ruling on the issue of marriage.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan.
The practical impact of dismissing the Prop. 8 case is limited. It leaves the lower court ruling striking down Prop. 8 in place, applying statewide at best.
However, the ruling may apply only to couples who directly challenged Prop. 8, or the counties in which they originally made those challenges. The lawyers who defended Prop. 8 said Wednesday that they are committed to seeing that Prop. 8 is enforced in the state.
Both these decisions are good news for gay married couples, in general, and also for Workers' Compensation and Immigration benefits. If you have any questions or concerns about these issues, please contact us at (213) 620-0222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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