Recently the Supreme Court of the US rendered a decision in the case referred to as the Windsor case. Edith Windsor led the case against the United States after she was forced to pay over $363,000 in estate taxes after her same-sex spouse died. Following the Supreme Court decision in Windsor, Section 3 of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act," or DOMA, has been declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. "Section Three" was the section which prevented the federal government from recognizing any marriages between gay or lesbian couples for the purpose of federal laws or programs, even if those couples are considered legally married by their home state. After the Windsor decision, committed same-sex couples who are legally married in their own states can now receive federal protections including but not limited to social security, veterans’ benefits, health insurance and retirement savings, military family benefits, multiple areas of tax categories, hospital visitation rights, and healthcare benefits. These are just a few of the numerous marital benefits that were denied to families because of DOMA, but will now be granted to same-sex couples in legal marriages.
DOMA, was passed in 1996 by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down Section 3 of DOMA which prevented the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples, because it violated the constitution’s “equal protection” clause of the constitution.
The Supreme Court case did not challenge Section 2 of DOMA. Section 2 declares that all states have the right to deny recognition of the marriage of same sex couples that originated in states where they are legally recognized, the ruling does not require any state to legalize or recognize a lawful marriage from another state.
The repeal of section 3 of DOMA creates a major increase in protections for same-sex couples in the United States. This grants legally married same-sex couples the same benefits received by their straight peers including: