In September of 1996 the Defense of Marriage Act was signed by then President Bill Clinton after it swept through both houses of Congress. 17 years later two landmark decisions by the Supreme Court have allowed gay marriage to continue in California and and put an end to DOMA by allowing the federal government to recognize gay marriage.
The first case decided gay couples are no longer denied social security survivor benefits, immigration rights, and family leave. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote most of the 5-4 decision, said DOMA was legal inequality and went against our protection of equal liberty bestowed upon us in the fifth amendment.
In the second, the courts said they couldn't rule on a challenge of Proposition 8. The 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice Roberts didn't rule on the constitutionality of Prop 8 but allowed same-sex marriage to resume in California. This comes five years after the California ban on gay marriage was approved by 52% of voters.
"Today’s decisions by the Court are groundbreaking civil rights victories for the LGBT community and a major step forward in our efforts to achieve full marriage equality in this nation." Said Governor Cuomo. "Two years ago, New York became the largest state to enact marriage equality, and since then we have seen a growing recognition across the country that all citizens deserve equal rights under the law, regardless of sexual orientation. From the Stonewall Riots 44 years ago this week, to the passage of marriage equality in New York, to today’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act that originated from a case brought by a New York resident, this state has been at the forefront of this movement."
Gay marriage supporters erupted outside of San Francisco's town hall after both decisions were made. It’s the step forward they’ve been waiting for since Harvey Milk took office in San Francisco and was assassinated for attempting to make the same reform.
Video Courtesy of CNN's YouTube Channel.