WASHINGTON (WAVY) - The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, opening federal benefits to those involved in same-sex marriages.
President Obama released the following statement:
"I applaud the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. 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. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal - and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents' marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.
So we welcome today's decision, and I've directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.
On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation's commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision - which applies only to civil marriages - changes that.
The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free."
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) released the following statement:
“Today’s Supreme Court decisions are an enormous victory for thousands of committed couples and their families across the country and a major step toward marriage equality. In ruling the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the Court has affirmed the principle that every legally married couple has the same right to equal benefits and responsibilities. I stand with same-sex couples and their loved ones in applauding the decision to affirm the equal treatment of all married couples under the law.”
Virginia Organizing released the following statement:
"Virginia Organizing is extremely pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court voted to protect the federal benefits of all people lawfully married. The Supreme Court is responsible for protecting the constitutional rights of every person, and today, the justices made it clear that the federal government may not infringe on the rights of same-sex married couples to receive the same protections and benefits as opposite-sex married couples.
Although this is a victory in the movement toward marriage equality, Virginia's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage continues to trample the rights of Virginians. The people of our nation are ready to move forward with equality and we call on Virginia's lawmakers to end the discrimination against same-sex couples' right to marry. Virginia Organizing will continue to work for equality of all people and fight against policies that discriminate against any class of individuals."
Equality Virginia released the following statement:
"Since 2006, Virginia has had a constitutional amendment that prohibits the legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples. While we continue working to lift the ban on marriage here at home, we can celebrate today's decision from the Supreme Court, affirming that all loving and committed couples deserve equal respect and treatment.
"For legally married same-sex couples, and widows or widowers, who live in a state like Virginia that discriminates against their marriages, access to those federal marital protections is less clear and will require some work."
Hampton Roads Pride released the following statement:
"Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (AKA DOMA) as unconstitutional is one major step for full equality for all citizens of this country. This statement from the justices says, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that LGBT citizens should be treated equally by their government. We have come so far in the fight for marriage equality, but that is only one part of the journey. There are many more opportunities for us to work for equality; equal housing, employment protections, and all fifty states allowing members of the LGBT community to marry. Today’s rulings are an enormous step in that direction, and we will strive ever onward to the goal of full equality for all citizens of this Commonwealth. As we gear up for our annual event in August, we will continue to highlight the movement and history we have seen here today, with the goal of full equality for all citizens. Join us tonight at 6:30pm for a rally of celebration across from the Federal Courthouse on Granby Street, where the community will celebrate this occasion and continue the march for equality."
The Virginia Attorney General's Office released the following statement:
"Virginia has followed the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman for more than 400 years, and Virginians voted overwhelmingly to add this traditional definition to their constitution. The Supreme Court's decision in California's Proposition 8 case could have had implications for all states with marriage laws similar to California's. As the attorney general's legal duty is to vigorously defend Virginia's laws when they are challenged, he filed a brief with the Supreme Court in conjunction with several other states in the California case and used every available legal argument to defend Virginia's Constitution and preserve the will of the citizens of the commonwealth.
"Today, the court's two decisions on marriage make clear that the rulings have no effect on the Virginia Marriage Amendment or to any other Virginia law related to marriage.
"Consistent with the duties of the attorney general, this office will continue to defend challenges to the constitution and the laws of Virginia."
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel released the following statement:
The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court's decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act. The department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court's decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies. The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses -- regardless of sexual orientation -- as soon as possible. That is now the law and it is the right thing to do.
Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country, and their qualifications to do so. Today's ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve.
Congressman Bobby Scott (D) released the following statement:
"The Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry decisions represent a victory for equality. Today's ruling in the Windsor case invalidates Sec. 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which I have opposed since it was passed in to law in 1996. The Court decided that discrimination against gay and lesbian married couples cannot be upheld under the Equal Protection Clause, which prohibits discrimination when there is no rational basis for the discrimination. A law that disparages and inflicts harm on a class of citizens cannot constitute a rational basis for discrimination. Hollingsworth was decided on a legal technicality, but is consistent with the Windsor decision, and so the right to marry will be restored to gay and lesbian couples in California.
"It should be noted that today the Court in Windsor did not rule on the constitutionality of Sec. 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states and territories not to recognize legal marriages performed in other states. If the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution requires states to recognize marriages performed in other states, then Sec. 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. If the Full Faith and Credit Clause does not require states to recognize marriages from other states, then Sec. 2 is unnecessary. For the reasons articulated in today's decisions, it is my view that when the Court considers the constitutionality of Sec. 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act, it will in fact require Virginia to recognize marriages from other states, even if Virginia law does not provide for same-sex marriages."
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