The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday in a 5-4 vote struck down a key provision in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which banned married same-sex couples from federal benefits, reports CNN:
"Although Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment," said Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The case examined whether the federal government can deny tax, health and pension benefits to same-sex couples in states where they can legally marry. At issue was whether DOMA violates equal protection guarantees in the Fifth Amendment's due process clause as applied to same-sex couples legally married under the laws of their states.
Additionally, the Court dismissed California’s Proposition 8 appeal. The ruling allows same-sex couples in California to legally marry without government interference.
The 5-4 decision avoids, for now, a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally-protected "equal protection" right that would apply to all states.
At issue was whether the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law prevents states from defining marriage, and whether a state can revoke same-sex marriage through referendum once it already has been recognized. […]
But the opinion also has the effect of throwing the debate back to the political branches of government, and perhaps to voters themselves, who may be poised to reverse course and approve same-sex marriage next year in California, continuing a nationwide trend.