Today is a historic day for same-sex couples across the nation. In deciding Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry, the United States Supreme Court has granted a major victory to those on the side of fairness for all loving couples. Each decision has its own effect on the current state of marriage equality across the nation, and what legal challenges are to come.
Windsor v. United States is the Court’s ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. The petitioner in Windsor was forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes upon her wife’s death due to the federal government’s non-recognition of same-sex marriages. The Court’s decision today holds that the federal government cannot treat state-recognized same-sex marriages any differently than it does state-recognized heterosexual marriages. The majority opinion makes important points about the equal dignity to which all same-sex couples are entitled. Hollingsworth v. Perry did not go as far in proclaiming fairness, but merely spoke of standing issues facing those in favor of restricting marriage to heterosexual couples. Since the opponents of marriage equality could not surmount the standing challenges, the Court found that the opinion of the District Court must stand. The practical effect of this is that marriage equality is returning to California for the time being.
While we acknowledge that there are still many battles to be won for marriage equality across the nation, we celebrate today’s rulings as a victory for fairness. Maryland same-sex married couples will now have full access to all of the benefits of marriage, putting them on equal footing with heterosexual couples. We thank you for your support of FreeState Legal Project, and of fairness and equality for all loving couples.