BREAKING: Supreme Court Declares DOMA Unconstitutional, Rules “No Standing” on Prop 8

Today, the Supreme Court ruled to strike down DOMA and declared it unconstitutional as per the Fifth Amendment. It has been ruled that the petitioners in Prop 8 did not have standing, and so the appeal is dismissed. From the decision on DOMA:

 The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.

It’s the culmination of months of waiting, and before that, years of struggle and activism. The Supreme Court heard arguments on two different issues: the Defense of Marriage amendment that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman on the federal level, and California’s Proposition 8, which sought to specifically outlaw same-sex marriage.

Given that there were two pieces of legislation under consideration, with differing purviews (a ruling on Prop 8 could be confined to California; DOMA is an amendment with national implications), there were complicated combinations of possible rulings and possible outcomes. The New York Times has a helpful flowchart which explains them, or you could look at these infographics from GLAAD.


The ruling on DOMA does not legislate same-sex marriage, but it does mean that in states where same-sex marriage is already legal, the federal government will recognize those marriages in the same way that they recognize different-sex marriages. This decision has no bearing on whether same-sex marriage will be legal in individual states. The opinion was written by Justice Kennedy, with the supporting four votes coming from Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Scalia has dissented, along with justices Alito, Roberts and Thomas.

The no standing ruling in Prop 8 means that there will be no national impact on same-sex marriage rights because of this case, but that same-sex marriage should become legal in California. Essentially, the Supreme Court is saying that the people who appealed the striking down of Prop 8 don’t have legal legitimacy to make an appeal, and so the court isn’t really considering the case. Over at SCOTUSblog, there’s a discussion of what the next step for Prop 8 might be. Here’s the SCOTUS liveblog’s take on what just happened with Prop 8, according to Amy Howe:

After the two same-sex couples filed their challenge to Proposition 8 in federal court in California, the California government officials who would normally have defended the law in court, declined to do so. So the proponents of Proposition 8 stepped in to defend the law, and the California Supreme Court (in response to a request by the lower court) ruled that they could do so under state law. But today the Supreme Court held that the proponents do not have the legal right to defend the law in court. As a result, it held, the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the intermediate appellate court, has no legal force, and it sent the case back to that court with instructions for it to dismiss the case.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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    • send Edie Windsor a Thank you card

      Edie Windsor C/O Roberta Kaplan
      Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
      1285 Avenue of the Americas
      New York, NY 10019-6064

      • I want to send her a thank you card even though I’m not even American. She’s just done us all a favor by making the world a better place in general.
        Edie, you’re my hero.

  1. I am ridiculously happy for my US friends.

    I will be shouting it out to everyone I see at the Tegan & Sara concert in Amsterdam tonight. My celebrations could not be any gayer.

  2. as soon as I saw this headline on twitter, I kind of just stared and went “We won a thing.” And then reading to the end of this article, and seeing this same phrase as one of the tags has resulted in a shit-eating grin on my face? Idk, I don’t live anywhere near the US but I have a lot of feelings about this. Very very happy feelings.

  3. From the liveblog. Amazing.

    Amy Howe: Justice Scalia is reading from his dissent right now. The Court’s opinion both in explaining its jurisdiction and its decision “both spring from the same diseased root: an exalted notion of the role of this court in American democratic society.”

  4. I am one step closer to my Britney-Jason Alexander-style Vegas wedding! (this is not necessarily my #1 feeling right now, but tis the most coherent of all the feelings)

    • Right? “Lifetime of happiness and devotion, blah blah blah,” whatever, I just want a 24 hour trashy gay Vegas marriage.

  5. Should we be surprised that DOMA came down? No.

    Did I cry in front of the tv when the ruling came through? Absofuckinglutely.

  6. We won a thing! This after Wendy Davis and crew’s win last night and I am dancing on my own right now.

    And it looks like Prop 8 will be ruled No Standing. That’s a win too!

    It is a beautiful day, Justice is served. I have tears in my eyes and I am drinking champagne at 7:23am

    • Was just thinking about how badly I want to hug that badass lady. Thea is smiling on us today.

      • she will be the grad marshall at NY Pride this weekend. I kinda want to fly to new york just to clap for her as she passes. love that lady! plus she is so cute, in an adorable grandma kind of way

        • She really is so cute! Thanks for posting the address, what a cool idea. I don’t even live in the US and I want to send her a card!

  8. I can’t even
    I can’t even
    I can’t even

    There are no words for how happy this makes me. :D

  9. GUYS I AM SO FUCKING HAPPY. The world is an amazing place and I want to hug everyone and everything in it. I WILL EVEN HUG YOU SCALIA, YOU TERRIBLE BASTARD BECAUSE NOTHING CAN BRING ME DOWN

    *champagne for everyone*

  10. I have the distinct feeling I will be getting NO work done today. :)
    Also I am getting flowers at work and tomorrow is my birthday, not that is anywhere near as exciting as this news, but happy birthday to me!
    The world is filled with ponies and flowers and rainbows!!!!

    wishing I was there with my american gf right now :(


  12. YAY! Thanks Rachel for being the perfect secondary news source to help me understand exactly what just happened. Thanks international straddlers for the congrats. And thank you Kennedy!

    • also, you guys, she offered to put money in the swear jars of baby ‘muricans! There are so many loving feelings and winning things and oh my gawwwwwwww!!!!

    • That “lady on tv” was Kate Kendell, founder and head of the NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights). Another kickass lesbian who continues to work tirelessly for all our benefit.


    I was pretty sure this would be the outcome, but I’ve always known that if anyone can fuck shit up it’s SCOTUS. And then after the shit show with the Affirmative Action ruling I was really nervous.

    But, YAY! I’m so happy!

    Thank you SCOTUS for not fucking this up.

  14. I’m glad all of you are here celebrating. This feels like such a big deal! I really wish I could be openly excited about this, so if you are someplace where that is possible squeal in excitement on my behalf!!! It will be 5 pm EST before I know it and then I can be as proud and loud as possible!!!

  15. Best 17th birthday ever, and it’s not even noon! Just wow! First the Windy Davis thing, and now this?!?!

  16. I’m reading this in a public library in small town Spain and grinning from ear to ear. The other people in the room probably think I am a little bit strange but I don’t care. This is wonderful news!

    And now I am REALLY excited about a) going to New York and b) seeing my American girlfriend next week, as if I wasn’t excited enough already. *tries to magic self across the pond*

  17. I know it’s frowned upon to do this so suddenly,

    but will ya’ll marry me?

    because that’s a thing now, and I want to share it with you.

  18. Hearing Edith say “I think it’s going to be good” in her speech to the press was the sweetest thing ever. I think so too Edie!

  19. Yay! I’m not American (and I don’t live there) but I’m really happy with this result.

    I’m not totally au fait with US law (the whole federal vs state law thing is bizarre to me), but by declaring a ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, will that in any way pressurise or encourage states that do not have marriage equality to hop on the band wagon?

    • I don’t think so unfortunately. As I understand it, banning same-sex marriage wasn’t deemed unconstitutional; rather, banning legally married same-sex couples from getting the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples was deemed unconstitutional. So, it’s still ok to keep people from getting married. BUT in states where gay marriage is legal, the federal government has to give them the same benefits as other married couples – like tax breaks, for example.

    • There’s a couple of steps before we undo all the state constitution bans unfortunately: First, we got to determine what exactly goes on in states where gay marriage is illegal – are these married people federally recognized in what ways and which ways?

      Then we have to figure out how the Full Faith and Credit Clause in the constitution works in regards to people who get gay married in states where it’s legal and move to states where it is illegal – up to now, DOMA was blocking that conversation.

      The Full Faith and Credit Clause is, for example, what allows state driver licenses (I.e. Florida, Georgia, Hawaii) to be valid in a different state that didn’t issue the license. One of the perks straight couples get under the Full Faith and Credit Clause is that their marriages are automatically recognized in all the states automatically. As it stands right now, Gay married couples are not afforded that. There is, however, legal precedent for forcing states to recognize marriages that they do not want to recognize – Loving v. Virginia, AKA That Court Case That Made Interracial Marriage Legal.

      So, it’s still early days, but very significant early days.

  20. Such great news! Finally something to smile about in America. I can’t wait till the day when I tell my kids and grandkids “Yeah there was a time when we weren’t allowed to be married, that’s history.” Thank you everyone!

  21. Well, I guess I know what my pickup line for the next two weeks will be: “Hey, marry me?”

    But in all seriousness, I’m dumbfounded. Not sure what to do.

  22. very very grateful for this ruling, really concerned about the other major rulings re: voter rights and affirmative action.

    celebrate today, work tomorrow?

    • I logged in just to upvote you. For my part, all of the positive feels I’m getting from DOMA dying are more than swamped by the disgust I’m still feeling about the Voting Rights Act decision.

      Supreme Court says: “Racism is over, guys!”


  23. It’s been a long, a long time coming
    But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

  24. OMG, can someone please get married at Acamp?! I will be your flowergirl in anticipation of there being a hot flowerboi.

  25. Omg! All teh feels! I’ve been alternating between crying and highfiving my coworkers all morning!

  26. Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…

  27. “Acceptance of the argument would cast all those who cling to traditional beliefs about the nature of mar­riage in the role of bigots or superstitious fools.” United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. __, __ (2013) (Alito, J. dissenting) (slip op. p. 13).


  28. I overslept through the ruling so my mom woke me up with a big smile on her face and told me to watch the news she taped.
    Frickin’ love her.

    • so sweet! I watched and cried with my gay too baby brother :) We’re not american, but it’s still a huge deal. Best day!

      (I also had 5 glasses of champagne with my awesome straight best friend and received my You do You pin in the mail today!) FTW!

  29. I cried when I saw the news, so many happy feelings. I’m basically the real life version the drunk dancing Ron Swanson gif.

  30. It’s fantastic, but I must be in a mood, because I’m not all that excited.

    I live in Idaho, you guys. Same-sex marriage is very, VERY banned. I think I was hoping for a miracle — that the Supreme Court would declare ALL gay marriage bans unconstitutional.

    I mean, I don’t have anyone to even THINK about marrying, and I wanted to move to Washington anyway. But…

    • Yep, there’s still a long way to go. I heard someone with HRC or Freedom to Marry (sorry, I forgot which) said their goal is to bring marriage equality nationwide within 5 years. I can’t decide if that’s really fast or way too slow… I guess both, depending on how you look at it!

      “I mean, I don’t have anyone to even THINK about marrying, and I wanted to move to Washington anyway. But…”
      This hit me right in the feels, I’ve said things like this to myself so many times and now I really want to hug you, if you’re cool with that.

    • Ditto.I’m in a pouty state myself right now but I don’t think I should be getting married for PRECISELY 5 years(minimum) actually so maybe its for the best.

  31. Can somebody please adopt / petition me so I can migrate to the US? Haha! CONGRATULATIONS USA! Cheers and love from the PI! *high five!*

  32. *Waking up to this news is like waking up to a snow day.

    *Who’s going to have the unfortunate job of telling straight married couples that their marriages aren’t valid anymore since DOMA was struck down and will no longer be defending their marriages?

    I call dibs.

    *Someone invite me to a gay wedding, ASAP.

  33. I have a question about DOMA: does this mean that couples can marry in states that have legal same-sex marriages, but live in states that don’t recognize them, will be able to have their marriages recognized federally but not state-wide?

    Like. If an Alaskan couple marries in Washington, do they still have their marriage federally recognized while living in Alaska even though the state doesn’t? And does this also apply to couples who marry internationally? (Same Alaskan couple marries in Canada, lives in Alaska.)?

    • As far as I understand (and often I understand wrong…) The federal gov’t now needs to decide how to proceed with dealing with marriages between states…like if the federal rights will be recognized in a state that doesn’t have same sex marriage…

    • The federal marriage benefits that DOMA previously denied is the issue.

      It’s going to be a really complicated mess, because there are different regulations and statutes per state, so there will be lots of different factors. Some benefits are doled out based on the state you got married (military veterans’ spousal benefits) and some based on the current state you reside, so it’ll be different depending on where you live and where you got married.

      As it currently stands, If you live in a state where gay marriage is legal, then you receive all the benefits that DOMA previously denied. If you got married in a state where gay marriage is legal then moved somewhere it’s illegal, you’re only going to receive a fraction of the benefits.

      • @___@ I don’t think I’ll ever understand the complexity that is the States-based rights vs. federal ones. But thank you, that cleared up my overall questions. I was curious about there being a loophole for prospective same-sex spouses getting married somewhere legal, and then getting at least the federal benefits in a non-legal state.

        • Yeah, our system is a clusterfuck based on checks and balances that just result in a lot of stalemates and slow progress.

          One example of state government vs federal government: Medical marijuana is legal in the state of California but isn’t federally recognized, so the FBI has been regularly raiding collectives, even though it’s perfectly legal in the state.

          The founding fathers didn’t want to give the state or central government too much power over each other, so the result is the aforementioned clusterfuck.


    Will someone be covering what’s going on down here in the Texas legislature? Please? Pretty please with unicorns wearing bow ties on top? Perry has called another “special session” starting July 1st and all senate bills start over. Here in Dallas there are serious talks of mobilizing and getting to Austin to protest. Also, Wendy Davis is my new hero…. #pleaseibegyou

  35. I totally teared up when I saw the news, which surprised me a little because the results were pretty much what I expected. But I was worried that they might kill DOMA based on states’ rights to define marriage, which seems like it would work against us. But they didn’t do that! They used the Equal Protection Clause! So yay, helpful legal precedent!

    Also I’ve played in string quartets for so many weddings, maybe now I can finally play for a gay wedding! I’m so excited!!! I can’t wait :)

  36. Guess I’m gonna be the debbie downer 1st world brat of the bunch but I gotta say, I don’t live in a state where gay marriage is legal, so I’m glad I wasn’t waiting for this thing with baited breath. I hope that at the very least this means that if you get married in a state where its legal you still have full rights even in a state where its not…

    • Yeah, totally. I’m lucky enough to have escaped to civilization, but for half my life I’ve lived in Wyoming and Idaho and my homogay friends still in those states are still just as fucked today as they were yesterday.

      I’m super thrilled for those of you who actually *did* win a thing today, though!

  37. This is super awesome for those of you who actually will benefit from it, but I can’t help being a little uncomfortable. It seems to me that a lot of these ruling wasn’t so much about affirming the basic humanity of LGBT folks, but rather about privileging “states’ rights” above all else. Which, when it comes to civil rights, is problematic as fuck. Most of the queer folks I know live in Wyoming and Idaho and they will never, ever be able to get married unless the federal government FORCES those states to stop sucking quite so hard.

    I’m just going to post a quote from this post by Lydia Crabtree because these are my basic feelings on the matter:

    “I am struck at how yesterday the idea that there is discrimination against minority voters was scoffed at by the Supreme Court and today that same Court embraced the idea that the United States is discriminating against same sex marriage. It is almost as if we as a society do not have an ability to hold in our minds the prejudice of two groups at the same time. In both cases, these fights have been sent back to the state level – upholding the view that state rights is paramount. As a Southerner this disturbs me. I am all too familiar with what happens when States have control of making and governing minority groups. Things here in Georgia are unlikely to change for my friends who wish to marry whom they love regardless of gender. Just as I suspect that more voting laws will be attempted making voting more difficult for minority groups and redrawing district lines to keep Georgia a red state for as long as possible, given the fact that these practices of voter suppression have been on going. I do not think the United States people should breathe a sigh of relief. This Court clearly shows the great imbalance between the will of the people and the people who hold power. A clear reflection of the disparity of power between the will of the people and the Senate and Congress. Now isn’t the time to celebrate, it is the time to recognize two important thing. 1. Any minority discrimination is too much discrimination, whether the issue is around same-sex marriage or voting rights. 2. If the states retain the right to restrict minority groups indirectly, we should understand the dangerous precedent and remember the historic cost of state rights throughout history. “

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