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Obergefell benefits from U.S. v. Windsor ruling

Quimbee: US v. Windsor

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The legality of same-sex marriage has been a major topic of debate in recent years, and there has been much development in the law leading up to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), declaring that same-sex couples had a fundamental right to marry protected by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution.

But that decision was the result of a progression that began in 1996 when Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Proponents of same-sex marriage had begun making headway in the legalization of the institution at the state level. In response, Congress enacted DOMA.

Among other things, that law provided that states did not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Further, DOMA defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman for purposes of federal marriage benefits.

When Edith Windsor was denied federal marriage benefits after the death of her same-sex spouse, the United States Supreme Court struck down the portion of DOMA excluding same-sex couples from federal marriage benefits. The Court’s decision in Windsor unquestionably set the stage for the Obergefell decision granting constitutional protection to same-sex marriage.


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