Yesterday, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was once again struck down by the courts. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken became the 3rd judge to rule that DOMA, or provisions of DOMA, violate not only the civil rights of citizens, but also the right of states to decide for themselves who can be legally married.
The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act makes it impossible for those states who have decided to legalize same sex marriages to offer couples full benefits under the law, essentially relegating the marriages to “civil union status.” But the law effects more than just marriages, it also prohibits states who have elected to provide partner benefits for state employees from granting them the federal rights that come with such decisions.
No matter which side of the marriage debate people find themselves on, even those who are opposed typically agree that States should have the ability to decide for themselves, free of the additional constraints that DOMA places on them.
Last year, even President Barack Obama took the side of the States’ Rights advocates, instructing the Department of Justice to no longer defend DOMA in court.