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.

First Major League Athlete Comes Out

First Major League Athlete Comes Out

By Shawn Jain, Media Strategist, ACLU at 2:37pm
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."
The ACLU and Windsor: "The future is ours. Equality is in this country's DNA."

The ACLU and Windsor: "The future is ours. Equality is in this country's DNA."

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 10:45am

I sat in the Supreme Court yesterday hearing the historic arguments in the Windsor case. I felt a mixture of pride...

Today at the Supreme Court: Ms. Windsor Goes to Washington

Today at the Supreme Court: Ms. Windsor Goes to Washington

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 7:55am

I'm writing from DC, where "Team Edie" has spent the last few days in intense preparations for today's Supreme Court oral arguments in Edie Windsor's challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Edie's case presents a straightforward question…

History Is On the Side of Striking Down DOMA

History Is On the Side of Striking Down DOMA

By Catherine R. Connors, Partner, Pierce Atwood LLP at 2:21pm

Of the many amici briefs filed to support marriage equality, the "Historian" brief, submitted by the American Historical Association along with 23 individual history professors, seeks to provide the proper historical context for the critical questions…

DOMA headed to the Supreme Court?

DOMA headed to the Supreme Court?

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:49pm

Today, we asked the United States Supreme Court to review the ACLU’s challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of Edie Windsor.  A federal trial court struck down DOMA last month in Edie's case, holding that it violates the federal…

New Legislation Addresses Need for Equal Treatment of Military Spouses

New Legislation Addresses Need for Equal Treatment of Military Spouses

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:41pm

Just in time for Independence Day, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, has introduced the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act (H.R. 6046).  This important legislation would ensure equality…

"Honey, We Did It!" – Edie Windsor Says Thank You

"Honey, We Did It!" – Edie Windsor Says Thank You

By Robyn Shepherd, ACLU at 4:41pm

Yesterday, Edie Windsor visited the ACLU and NYCLU offices to address the media after her amazing victory in her challenge against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Edie filed a lawsuit with the help of the ACLU and the law firm Paul, Weiss,…

ACLU Lens: Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down DOMA

ACLU Lens: Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down DOMA

By Robyn Shepherd, ACLU at 12:15pm

A federal appeals court in Massachusetts ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies married same-sex couples the same federal benefits available to other married couples.

The case, Gill v. Office of Personnel…

ACLU Lens: President Obama Endorses Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples

ACLU Lens: President Obama Endorses Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples

By Alicia Gay, ACLU at 4:22pm

President Obama today became the first sitting U.S. president to endorse the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. In an interview taped earlier this afternoon, he told ABC News’ Robin Roberts:

“I have to tell you that over the…

Marriage For All Comes to New York!

By Sam Ritchie, ACLU at 2:06pm

…and the ACLU was there! From Niagara Falls to New York City, the NYCLU and ACLU were at wedding ceremonies all over New York State yesterday, talking to happy same-sex couples and their families as they finally got to tie the knot.

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