This past week was a HUGE week for the advancement of human and civil rights in the United States. Part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), an act that made same sex marriages in the United States illegal and unrecognized, was overturned after determined to be unconstitutional and in violation of the 5th amendment. "By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment."
What exactly does this change?
1. Some same sex couples can jointly file their federal taxes
2. Some same sex couples can share health care plans without a tax penalty
3. Some same sex spouses can receive social security benefits on behalf of their spouse
4. Some same sex spouses can inherit from their partners upon death without tax penalty
5. Some LBGTQ foreigners can marry same sex Americans and petition for green cards
However, same sex marriage is only recognized in 12 of the United States. Therefore, same sex couples that live in states that do not recognize same sex marriage (good ole Georgia, for example) cannot enjoy the majority of these rights because of state laws. Some government organizations (i.e. IRS and Social Security) look at a couple’s state of residency- not the state where they got married- which further denies these rights to same sex couples.
Shortly after the decision, President Barack Obama spoke in celebration of the overturn of DOMA, "This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it."
What an overjoying feeling, to know that we have a President that supports and understands the needs for all families to be treated humanely and as equals!
Though not a complete victory, this step towards equality means our nation is open to the (not so liberal) idea that Gay rights are Civil rights are Human rights. Anything is possible. I am so hopeful about the future.
For more information about DOMA’s overturn check out these websites