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.

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 of the landmark Supreme Court decision which bears their name, Loving v. Virginia, and which recognized an equal right to marriage for all people, regardless of race.
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…

One Year After DOMA: A Conversation with Edie Windsor

One Year After DOMA: A Conversation with Edie Windsor

Edie Windsor, with the ACLU's help, fought to have her marriage to her partner of 44 years respected by the federal government. And she won! It's hard to believe it's been a year since the Supreme Court struck down the discriminatory Defense of Marriage…

What the Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear a Challenge to DOMA Should Mean for Same-Sex Bi-National Couples

What the Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear a Challenge to DOMA Should Mean for Same-Sex Bi-National Couples

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:41pm

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Edie Windsor’s challenge to the discriminatory, so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Despite the fact that Edie and her late spouse, Thea Spyer, were together for more than four decades and…

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…

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.…

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).

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…

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…
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…

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