Daily VideoJune 27, 2013
Supreme Court Declares DOMA Unconstitutional
Watch Gay Rights Advocates Score Supreme Court Victories on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
Gay rights activists claimed victory Wednesday after the Supreme Court decided to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied legally married same-sex couples the same rights as their straight counterparts.
DOMA, signed in 1996 by President Clinton, defined marriage as between only one man and one woman. Although gay marriages may be recognized in some states, couples did not receive the same federal benefits such as hospital visitation rights, a right to file joint taxes and inherit property.
The decision was made by 5-4 vote at the Supreme Court. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, explaining, “DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal.”
Although same-sex marriages may be federally recognized, portions of DOMA were left intact. States are still not required to recognize same-sex unions from another state.
While many took to the streets of the capital to celebrate, those opposing same-sex marriages were disappointed in the decision. One woman expressed concern about what the ruling would mean for the definition of marriage.
“I’m afraid that this ruling will affect the definition of marriage,” she said. “So that if it’s not one man and one woman, it can be any — anyone.”
The decision to make same-sex marriages legal still rests in the hands of the state.
Warm Up Questions
1. Why do people get married?
2. Is gay marriage legal in your state?
3. What is your definition of marriage?
1. Why do you think this marriage was argued at the Supreme Court?
2. Do you think states should decide if gay marriage is legal?
3. Why is the right to marry a central issue for gay rights advocates?
— Compiled by Carrie Waltemeyer for NewsHour Extra
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
After decades of isolation, Cuba could soon expand access to consumer technology and the Internet. Continue reading
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered the elimination of all trans fats from the food supply within the next three years, a long-awaited move that is expected to save thousands of lives per year. Continue reading
The reforms were spurred in part by the death of Kalief Browder, a former Rikers inmate who was accused of stealing a backpack at age 16. Continue reading
The racially-motivated shooting of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, SC, has spurred discussion and debate about the state of racism in America. Continue reading
Facing low graduation rates, Rainier Beach High School took an ambitious approach to turn things around. Continue reading