Victory for Equality – DOMA and Prop 8 ruled unconstitutional

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The much anticipated rulings by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) are in, and LGBT people across the nation are celebrating. In a historic ruling, SCOTUS has overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, granting married same-sex couples over 1,000 rights previously denied to them. In addition, they have ruled no standing on Prop 8, which essentially bans the legislation as unconstitutional, reinstating same-sex marriage in California. 

Regarding DOMA, Justice Kennedy authored the opinion, as expected. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Scalia dissented. 

Justice Kennedy writes:

“The federal statute [DOMA] 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.”

Here is a link to the full decision on DOMA. 

The rulings is based on equal protection under the law, essentially stating that DOMA Is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment. 

The court has ruled no standing on Proposition 8, in a 5-4 vote. Kennedy dissents, joined by Thomas, Alito, and Sotomayor. The majority includes Roberts, Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan. 

Here is a link to the full decision on Prop 8. 

Essentially, the court rules that the parties who brought Prop 8 to court did not have standing to do so. The judgement of the Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case remanded with instructions to dismiss Prop 8 for lack of jurisdiction.

Amy Howe, updating the live SCOTUS blog, provides a “plain english” take on Hollingsworth v. Perry, aka the challenge to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8:

After the two same-sex couples filed their challenge to Proposition 8 in federal court in California, the California government officials who would normally have defended the law in court, declined to do so.

So the proponents of Proposition 8 stepped in to defend the law, and the California Supreme Court (in response to a request by the lower court) ruled that they could do so under state law.

But today the Supreme Court held that the proponents do not have the legal right to defend the law in court. As a result, it held, the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the intermediate appellate court, has no legal force, and it sent the case back to that court with instructions for it to dismiss the case.

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