Defense of Marriage Act

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law passed in 1996 that both created a federal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and expressly gave states permission to refuse to recognize marriages entered into by same-sex couples in other jurisdictions. The part of DOMA that defines marriage at the federal level – known as Section 3 – was a radical departure from 220 years of federal practice, which was to rely on each state to define marriage and to recognize any marriage legally entered into under state law as a valid marriage for federal purposes.

We are challenging Section 3 of DOMA on behalf of our client Edie Windsor in Windsor v. United States, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States. In June, the Court will rule on whether DOMA violates equal protection by treating married gay couples as unmarried in over 1,100 federal programs.

DOMA Zombies Surface in Congress

DOMA Zombies Surface in Congress

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:13am
Since the Supreme Court's landmark Windsor ruling last June striking down the core of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), the federal government has moved, with commendable speed, in a myriad of areas to extend recognition to the marriages of same-sex couples.
VICTORY! Military Ban on Consensual Intimacy Ends

VICTORY! Military Ban on Consensual Intimacy Ends

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:33am

In the late hours on Thursday evening, the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 84-15, passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), sending the measure to President Obama for his signature.  Included within the sprawling annual defense authorization…

Marriage Momentum Continues!

Marriage Momentum Continues!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:52pm

What a day! Today two courts moved us closer to the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in New Jersey and Illinois.

In the ACLU and Lambda Legal's lawsuits seeking marriage in Illinois, a state trial court ruled that the case shouldn't be…
Following Historic Supreme Court Decision Striking Down DOMA, Administration Acts

Following Historic Supreme Court Decision Striking Down DOMA, Administration Acts

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:32pm

Following Wednesday's historic decision by the Supreme Court striking down the heart...

DOMA's Defeat a Clear Victory for Same-Sex Binational Couples

DOMA's Defeat a Clear Victory for Same-Sex Binational Couples

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:29pm

As pissed-off and heartbroken as advocates for LGBT rights were over the failure to include same-sex binational couples in the Senate immigration bill last month, Wednesday's defeat of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" at the Supreme Court was…

Going West: Looking Forward to Realizing the Promise of California

Going West: Looking Forward to Realizing the Promise of California

By James Gilliam, ACLU of Southern California at 2:42pm

Two years ago, my best friend asked me to officiate at her wedding. It was an honor to play that special role in her life, and I loved doing it. But standing before the crowd, I was struck by the unfortunate irony of the situation: Even as I married my friend and her husband, I could not marry my own partner. I decided that hers would be the last wedding I attended until I had the freedom to have my own.

Where were you when DOMA bit the dust?

By Rekha Arulanantham, ACLU at 2:24pm

Here's to remembering each and every one of our celebrations of this moment in history.

Big Win Today - Now Full Equality in Sight

Big Win Today - Now Full Equality in Sight

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 2:02pm

Today was phenomenal.

27 years ago, I decided to study law because I wanted to make a difference in the world. And today, the American Civil Liberties Union – the organization that I have been privileged to lead since 2001 – made history…

DOMA Unconstitutional! And Prop 8 Goes Down, Too!

DOMA Unconstitutional! And Prop 8 Goes Down, Too!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 11:50am

The United States Supreme Court just ruled that section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution. This decision, in the ACLU's lawsuit on behalf of Edie Windsor, marks a watershed moment in the movement for LGBT equality.…

A Loving Reality for All

A Loving Reality for All

By Greger Calhan, Legal Fellow, ACLU, Racial Justice Program at 12:16pm

The month of June represents a double anniversary for Mildred and Richard Loving. Two weeks ago, the Virginia couple would have celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. And earlier this week on June 12th, Americans celebrated the 46th anniversary…

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