Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Proposition 8 and so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’

Supreme_Court_US_2010The U.S. Supreme Court today announced it would hear a challenge to the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), a 1996 law targeting same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law. It will also hear a challenge in the case of California’s Proposition 8. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has previously ruled that Prop. 8, which denies same-sex couples the freedom to marry, is unconstitutional.

While there were eight challenges to the “Defense of Marriage Act” petition to the court, the Supreme Court has granted cert in United States v. Windsor. This challenge is from Edith “Edie” Windsor, who sued the federal government for failing to recognize her marriage to her partner Thea Spyer, after Spyer’s death in 2009. Windsor and Spyer, who were a couple for 44 years, were married in Canada in 2007, and were considered married by their home state of New York.

Statement by Rea Carey, executive director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

The nation’s high court has agreed to consider one of the most defining civil rights issues of our time. Marriage equality touches our community’s hearts and affects our wallets, and the DOMA and Prop. 8 cases present the Supreme Court with a monumental opportunity to affirm our Constitution’s promises of liberty, equality and human dignity.

We simply want to be treated fairly, and to be able to provide for and protect our families, just as everyone else does. Yet DOMA makes this impossible by denying legally married same-sex couples vital federal protections available to every other married couple in this country. This includes Social Security, health insurance, retirement savings and veterans’ benefits. Couples who have made a lifelong commitment to each other through marriage are being treated as strangers in the eyes of their own federal government. This is unconscionable, and as lower courts have deemed, unconstitutional.

The transformative nature of talking about our love and our lives is clear, as we saw with the recent sweeping statewide marriage victories, and in the fact that the majority of Americans now supports the freedom to marry. But the journey is not finished, for as long as DOMA remains intact, then true equality remains out of reach. The clock is ticking on DOMA — it’s time the Supreme Court strike down DOMA and Proposition 8, once and for all.