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.

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 is a repeal of the military’s stigmatizing and discriminatory ban on private, consensual intimate conduct – defined in Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) as "unnatural carnal copulation."
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…

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…

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.…

Voices Against DOMA: We've Got Friends

Voices Against DOMA: We've Got Friends

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:38pm

We're almost there – next week, on March 27, the Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in Edie Windsor's case. Essentially DOMA requires the federal government to treat legally married…

DOMA Repeal Vote Represents a Critical Shift

DOMA Repeal Vote Represents a Critical Shift

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:36pm

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 in support legislation that would fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

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…

Marriage Equality is a Workers' Rights Issue

Marriage Equality is a Workers' Rights Issue

By Nicole G. Berner, Associate General Counsel, Service Employees International Union & Elena Medina, Law Fellow, Service Employees International Union at 12:09pm

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in two historic cases relating to marriage equality. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Justices will consider the constitutionality of...

DOMA Unconstitutional Again, and Heightened Scrutiny to Boot!

DOMA Unconstitutional Again, and Heightened Scrutiny to Boot!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:20pm

Yesterday, in Edie Windsor’s challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that DOMA violates the Constitution. It’s the second federal appeals court to strike DOMA down, and it’s the…

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