It was 17 years ago when President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevented married same-sex couples from receiving benefits available to other married couples under federal law.
Ironic, too, that it was Clinton, whose own marriage is not exactly the poster child for healthy wedlock, who signed DOMA into law.
But this week, the Supreme Court righted another wrong in ruling that DOMA was unconstitutional.
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “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.”
While the decision directly impacts gays, it also has an impact on the country as a whole. The more this nation tears away at legalized discrimination, the better we all will be.
The case that led to Wednesday’s ruling, United States v. Windsor, may not currently have the same historical ring as Brown vs. Board of Education, it nonetheless is another landmark decision relating to equality.
Why some in the country were so afraid of legalizing same-sex marriage remains a mystery. Was it religious teachings? Was it fear? Was it pure ignorance?
What ever the answer, five supreme court justices have again done right by America and today we’re all that much more equal.
And that’s a good thing for all.
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