In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, paving the way for the federal recognition of same-sex marriages. In a separate 5-4 ruling, the court dismissed an appeal by opponents of marriage equality of a lower court decision that found California's Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The dismissal of the appeal means that same-sex couples in California can begin getting married again.
Darren Phelps, executive director of Pride At Work, celebrated the decisions:
Yes! It is a historic day, at last DOMA is overturned. The California Prop. 8 case also went down, for lack of standing.
For LGBT workers, the DOMA decision means that married couples must be treated as married in accordance with the laws in their state. Marriage equality is about treating all couples with respect, but it also has major financial and legal impacts that will allow more same-sex couples to more effectively support their families.
We will continue efforts to win marriage equality in more states, but there are also vital issues remaining for the LGBT community—our lives are about more than marriage. This has been a monumental week, from yesterday’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act to today’s phenomenal action striking down DOMA. All of our communities must and will continue working together for the rights of all people, be it voting rights, marriage equality or continuing the fight to end employment discrimination.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement:
The Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 were radical and divisive laws that never should have been. Now, we can begin to fully clear the dark legal cloud that has hung over our nation. While justices ruled on the right side of history today, there is far more work to be done in the pursuit of equality. As a nation, we must continue to stand for what is right not only in freedom to marry for all loving and committed couples, but address other major issues for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers such as employment discrimination, health care access and more. We rejoice in today’s victory and are ready and willing to take on the challenges that still exist.
And while the ruling is clearly a step forward, it is not enough. Many states still lack nondiscrimination laws and other legal protections, and LGBT workers can still legally be fired for being LGBT.
The court session was not all positive either, as AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker noted the Voting Rights Act ruling yesterday was a setback for democracy.