In a pair of major victories for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and, by declining to decide a case from California, effectively allowed same-sex marriages there.
The rulings leave in place laws banning same-sex marriage around the nation, and the court declined to say whether there was a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. But in clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, the court effectively increased to 13 the number of states that allow such unions.
The decision on federal benefits will immediately extend many benefits to couples in the states where same-sex marriage is legal, and it will give the Obama administration the ability to broaden other benefits through executive actions…
The decision on the federal law was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing the majority opinion, which the four liberal-leaning justices joined.
“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,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
The ruling overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed with bipartisan support and which President Bill Clinton signed.
The decision will raise a series of major questions for the Obama administration about how aggressively to overhaul references to marriage throughout the many volumes that lay out the laws of the United States.
Overdue – and like many SCOTUS rulings, the court noted responsibility from here forward lies with Congress.
I’m not certain Congress could produce a bus schedule.