From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/26/supreme-court-doma-prop-8-rulings
Justices rule Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional and clear way for same-sex marriage to be restored in California
A landmark supreme court ruling struck down a controversial federal law that discriminated against gay couples in the US, delivering a stunning victory on Wednesday to campaigners who fought for years to overturn it.
The court also dismissed a separate appeal against same-sex marriage laws in California, restoring the right to gay marriage in the largest US state and nearly doubling the number of Americans living in states where gay marriage would be legal.
Together, the two rulings mark the biggest advance in civil liberties for gay people in a generation, and come amid growing political and international recognition that same-sex couples deserve equal legal treatment.
As reporters sprinted from the chamber down the court steps to deliver the news of the rulings, a roar built up from the crowd that had been waiting outside since the night before.
The most significant legal breakthrough came in the decision led by Justice Anthony Kennedy to rule that the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma) was unconstitutional because it deprived citizens of “equal liberty” before the law.
Doma, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, previously barred married gay couples from a range of crucial legal rights including federal tax and estate tax exemptions, social security benefits, and the right to be notified of the death of next of kin. It also meant that the married partners of gay Americans were not recognised under the immigration system, leading to heartbreaking splits for couples of different nationalities.
But in a case brought by an 84-year-old resident of New York, Edith Windsor, who faced a $313,000 estate tax bill after the death of her partner of 40 years, lawyers successfully argued that Doma was an unconstitutional interference by Congress in the rights of states to determine marriage laws.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/26/supreme-court-doma-prop-8-rulings