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June 26, 2013

Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA Section 3, Issues Standing Ruling on California’s Prop 8

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the legal organization that first brought marriage equality to the United States nine years ago, today hailed the Supreme Court’s historic decisions in Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry. In Windsor, Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down, and in Perry, the court ruled that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have standing to appeal lower court rulings.

This means that all legally married same-sex couples will have access to all the federal protections afforded to legally married opposite-sex couples, and that California couples will likely have the right to marry, in accordance with the federal district court ruling.

The Court has removed the stain and the insult that is DOMA,” said Lee Swislow, GLAD’s Executive Director.  “This is an enormous victory and a joyous day for loving, married couples and their families – and for thousands of couples in California who will now be able to express their commitment through marriage.”

“Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that there should be no gay exception in how the federal government regards marriage.  If you are married, you are married,” said

Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director for GLAD, and lead counsel in the 2003 Massachusetts case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, of the Court’s ruling against DOMA. “Married couples now come before the federal government as equals.”

Married couples from any state with questions about the immediate impact of the Court striking down DOMA can contact GLAD’s Legal InfoLine: 1-800-455-4523; or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); or by live chat at www.glad.org/rights/infoline-contact.

DOMA, which was enacted in 1996, barred all legally married same-sex couples from being recognized as married under federal law.  Its impact and damage has been far-reaching, touching on every area of federal law, from Social Security and family medical leave to immigration policy and tax-filing.

GLAD brought two multi-plaintiff challenges to DOMA, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management in 2009 and Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management in 2010, winning two district level decisions and one appellate victory, laying legal groundwork for today’s SCOTUS ruling.  GLAD also coordinated the massive amicus effort in support of Windsor, a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the firm of Paul Weiss Rifkind, on behalf of Edith Windsor.

“Congratulations to our colleagues and friends at the ACLU, to Edie Windsor, to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, to the plaintiffs in Perry, and the people of California,” said Swislow. “Like our Gill and Pedersen plaintiffs, Edie was stung by discrimination.  She and her advocates have won an historic victory that will enable couples to better protect one another and their children.”

GLAD will be working in coming months on implementation, and will keep the community informed as legal issues are clarified.

Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation.