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Supreme Court declares DOMA unconstitutional

The United States Supreme Court has declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in a 5-4 vote. Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion and is joined by the four liberal Justices — Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy read from the majority opinion as the decision was announced. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

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

DOMA, which was passed by the U.S. House and Senate and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, prevents same-sex couples whose marriages are recognized by their home state from receiving the hundreds of benefits available to other married couples under federal law. During the Obama administration, the Justice Department initially defended DOMA in court despite the administration’s desire to repeal it. But the Justice Department changed course in early 2011, finding that the law was unconstitutional and declining to defend it any longer. House Republicans have since spent hundreds of thousands of dollars taking over that defense.

The full ruling is available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_g2bh.pdf

This breaking story will be updated.

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