U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government violated the
Constitution by refusing to recognizing same-sex marriages that are
legally sanctioned by a state while avoiding the larger question of
whether the U.S. Constitution protects the right of all same-sex
couples to marry nationwide.
Writing for a 5-4 majority in United States v. Windsor
that included the Court’s liberal justices, Justice Anthony Kennedy
held that Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act “violates
basic due process and equal protection principles.” According to
his ruling, the law’s “principal effect is to identify a subset of
state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal" while DOMA’s
"principal purpose is to impose inequality.”
In the second gay marriage case, Hollingsworth v.
Perry, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a 5-4 majority
that included Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen
Breyer, and Elena Kagan, ruled that the Supreme Court lacked
jurisdiction to hear the legal challenge to California’s voter
initiative banning gay marriage, Proposition 8, because the
initiative backers who defended the law in federal court lacked the
requisite legal standing before the federal judiciary.
As expected, today’s rulings advance the cause of gay rights by
striking down a key element of the Defense of Marriage Act while
leaving the larger question of gay marriage’s constitutionality to
be decided in a future case.