US Supreme Court rules that DOMA is unconstutional

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The US Supreme Court has issued its opinions in the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, to say that it is unconstitutional.

After several days of fraught speculation about when the court would rule, it made its announcement on Wednesday morning that Section 3 of DOMA, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, paving the way for over 1,100 benefits, previously not afforded to same-sex couples.

The clear-cut ruling was made on the case of United States v Windsor.

It issued an opinion on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which federally defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and therefore blocked gay married couples from receiving many benefits, on Wednesday morning.

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deem DOMA unconstitutional, saying that it was so, because it deprived people of their Fifth Amendment freedoms.

The opinion read: “DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.”

The full opinion is available to read on the SCOTUS website.

As a result of today’s opinion, Edith Windsor of New York, who was married to her partner, and who sued the government in order to get the federal estate tax deduction previously only available to straight people when their spouses die, will be eligible for a $363,000 (£236,000) tax refund.

Nine US states, and Washington DC currently allow equal marriage, and it will become law in Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota in the summer.

The US state of Maryland in November 2012 became the first state to legalise equal marriage by means of a popular vote back in 2012. The law came into effect on 1 January 2013.

Washington and Maine also legalised equal marriage in referendums in those states on the same day.