The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013, that the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states, as unconstitutional. A 5-4 vote ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies legally married same-sex couples over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage, is unlawful and Section 3 was overturned. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in a majority opinion that the federal statute is invalid because no one deserves to be disparaged and injured by federal laws when individual states approve of same-sex marriage and are willing to offer them protection in personhood and dignity. He further went on to state that with the federal statute seeking to remove said protection and treating married same-sex couples with less respect is a violation of the Fifth Amendment.
DOMA, which was signed by President Clinton in 1996, prevented same-sex couples whose marriages were recognized as legal by their home state from receiving thousands of benefits that were available to opposite-sex married couples under federal law. Some of these benefits include Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights, family and medical leave, and the ability to combine resources as a family without facing unfair taxes. The Justice Department initially defended DOMA during the Obama administration, despite the administration's wishes to rescind it. In early 2011, however, the Justice Department decided that the law was unconstitutional and stated that it was no longer defending DOMA. The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, or BLAG, stated that they would defend DOMA since the Department of Justice was no longer in support of said law.
With DOMA considered unconstitutional, all married couples, including same-sex couples, must be treated as married by the federal government, no matter where they live. Same-sex couples who are married and live in one of the 12 states that has legalized gay marriage or in Washington, D.C. are eligible for federal protection and responsibilities that are given to other married couples 25 days after the decision was made. No matter if you are in an opposite or same-sex marriage and wish to divorce your spouse, Amdur, Maggs & Dugan can help. Our firm has years of family law and divorce experience and can help both same-sex and opposite sex couples divorce. To learn more about our divorce services, please contact a Monmouth County divorce lawyer from our law firm.