WASHINGTON (BP) -- Same-sex marriage advocates have gained a two-fold victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, although the justices stopped short of redefining marriage nationwide.
The high court struck down Wednesday (June 26) a federal law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. In another case regarding gay marriage, it appears the justices’ ruling on a procedural question will have the effect of allowing to stand a federal judge’s invalidation of a California amendment that limited marriage to heterosexual couples. Both decisions were by 5-4.
The Supreme Court did not, however, legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country or rule that states cannot limit marriage to a man and a woman.
In the federal marriage case, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996. Lower courts struck down DOMA’s Section 3, which defines marriage as a heterosexual union for purposes of such matters as federal benefits. Section 3, which was the portion of DOMA under consideration by the high court, also bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
In the California case, voters approved Proposition 8 as an amendment to the state constitution in 2008 after the state Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage earlier in the year. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, however, affirmed a federal judge’s decision striking down the amendment.
In its opinion Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled Prop 8 supporters – who appealed the lower court ruling after the state refused to do so – did not have standing to make such an appeal. The justices sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit and ordered it to void its decision. The order appears to mean same-sex marriage will be legal in California.
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Publication date: June 26, 2013