Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling Today: DOMA Declared Unconstitutional, SCOTUS Strikes Down Prop. 8 Appeal

By Philip Ross on June 26, 2013 10:07 AM EDT

supreme court gay marriagee
DOMA declared unconstitutional, Prop. 8 appeal struck down. (Photo: Reuters)

UPDATE 10:49 President Obama tweets about Supreme Court's gay marriage rulings. "Today's DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for #MarriageEquality. #LoveIsLove," he said.

UPDATE 10:30 a.m. In regards to Prop. 8: "The decision of the Ninth Circuit is vacated and remanded." Gay marriage legal again in California. The justices ruled that the Ninth Circuit did not have the right to consider the appeal. Therefore, their judgment is "vacated." The appeal must be dismissed. Justice Roberts delivered the opinion on Prop. 8. The lineup is 5-4: Kennedy dissents, joined by Thomas, Alito, and Sotomayor.

UPDATE 10:18 a.m. From the court's decision: "DOMA's principal effect is to identify a subset of state sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities."

Robert and Scalia dissent. Opinion is by Justice Kennedy. Joined by four liberal Justices, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

UPDATE 10:14 a.m. Amy Howe, blogging for SCOTUS, says "There is language suggesting that the Court will dismiss Prop 8 on standing."

UPDATE 10:11 a.m. From the opinion: "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."

UPDATE 10:02 a.m. The Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act. "DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment," Amy Howe, Scotusblog.com. In a 5-4 decision, justices rule that DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees equal liberties for all Americans.

The Supreme Court is set to rule on two high-profile gay marriage cases today, June 26. People all across the country are hanging on SCOTUS's every word, as the decisions -- one regarding the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the other on California's controversial Prop. 8 -- have landmark implications for gay Americans everywhere.

The gay rights movement in the U.S. has been touch-and-go over the past decade, with every victory met with a defeat, and vice-versa. The Supreme Court's gay marriage rulings today could spell either a win or a loss for the gay rights movement, depending on the outcome.

One of the cases concerns the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a 1996 law, signed by President Bill Clinton, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman for the purposes of federal benefits. The law excludes same-sex couples from receiving thousands of federal benefits afforded to opposite-sex married couples.

At 10 a.m. today, the nine justices are slated to convene and to announce their decisions shortly afterwards.

What could happen in today's Supreme Court gay marriage rulings? Here are some (albeit, not all) scenarios that could play out today:

1. SCOTUS could strike down DOMA. This means gay couples already married would be eligible for federal benefits. States without same-sex marriage, however, would not have to adopt it.

2. SCOTUS could uphold DOMA. Business would continue as usual.

3. The justices could rule that California's Prop. 8 violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.This would effectively lead to gay marriage being legalized everywhere.

4. SCOTUS could rule Prop. 8 does not violate the Equal Protection Clause. States can define marriage as they choose. This is what Prop. 8 supporters want most from the Supreme Court.

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