Live updates: Holder calls DOMA ruling ‘an enormous triumph’
The Obama administration said it would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court in 2011. At the time Atty. Gen. Eric Holder, who had previously defended the law, said the Justice Department determined that DOMA was no longer constitutional.
Holder today called the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA “an enormous triumph for equal protection under the law for all Americans.”
Holder said in a statement that the Department of Justice would work “expeditiously” to implement the court’s decision.
“Despite this momentous victory, our nation’s journey – towards equality, opportunity and justice for everyone in this country – is far from over,” Holder said. “ Important, life-changing work remains before us. And, as we move forward in a manner consistent with the Court’s ruling, the Department of Justice is committed to continuing this work, and using every tool and legal authority available to us to combat discrimination and to safeguard the rights of all Americans.”
12:20 p.m.: Celebrities took to Twitter today to express their satisfaction with two Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage. Many of Hollywood’s elite have supported marriage equality for years, helping to raise money and awareness for the cause as they promote their work.
Neil Patrick Harris supported marriage equality and tweeted soon after the Supreme Court released its decision.
“Huzzah! Christmas comes six months early this year! (Less one day…),” Harris said.
Lady Gaga has a history of donating a percentage of her concert proceeds to LBGT advocacy groups.
Meanwhile, television host Ellen DeGeneres called Wednesday “a supremely wonderful day for equality.”
“Prop 8 is over, and so is DOMA,” she tweeted. “Congratulations everyone. And I mean everyone.”
Perhaps actress Kristen Bell’s reaction took things the farthest. Bell and her fiance, Dax Shepard, both advocates for marriage equality, formally announced their engagement following the decisions.
His reply, also via Twitter, “DOMA is dead. Prop 8 is dead. Now let’s bring my big, gay marriage to @IMKristenBell to Life!!!!”
11:32 a.m.: More than 16 years after he signed the Defense of Marriage Act, former President Bill Clinton completed his about face on Wednesday, applauding the Supreme Court’s decision to strike it down.
As he campaigned for reelection in 1996, Clinton signed DOMA, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman under federal law.
The former president has gradually retreated from his action in the years since he signed the bill into law. And finally this month, Clinton disowned the DOMA altogether and urged the Supreme Court to overturn it.
In a joint statement issued with his wife Hilary Clinton on Wednesday, the former President said that the court’s decision “recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union.
“We are also encouraged that marriage equality may soon return to California,” the Clintons said.
11:05 a.m.: Religious leaders, drawing on their faith traditions and beliefs, are commenting on the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage rulings:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a statement, said that it was “irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman.”
“By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates,” said the church, which heavily backed the Proposition 8 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in California. “Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.“
Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, in a joint statement, called Wednesday “a tragic day for marriage and our nation.”
“The Court got it wrong,” the pair’s statement said. “The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so.”
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in its own statement, said its belief in marriage between one man and one woman was “unalterable” but bowed to the court’s ruling, stating that “Judaism teaches respect for others and we condemn discrimination against individuals.”
“We do not expect that secular law will always align with our viewpoint,” the union said. “Ultimately, decisions on social policy remain with the democratic process, and today the process has spoken and we accord the process and its result the utmost respect.”
The Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of the United Church of Christ’s Local Church Ministries, applauded the decisions outright.
“This is a great day for marriage equality, for all couples, gay or straight, because the Supreme Court has underscored the central point that marriage is ultimately about deep commitment between two people who love one another, not prescribed gender roles,” Guess said. “While we still yearn for the day when equal marriage is fully legal, granted and protected in all 50 states, this is a significant step toward full freedom and recognition for LGBT people by the U.S. federal government.”
10:42 a.m.: Conservatives bemoaned the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex marriage Wednesday.
“Jesus wept,” former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted after the rulings. “5 people in robes said they are bigger than the voters of CA and Congress combined. And bigger than God. May He forgive us all.”
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said that the court’s action “will undermine the best interest of children and the best interests of the United States.”
“For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman,” she said. “Only since 2000 have we seen a redefinition of this foundational unit of society in various nations. … Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to join the trend, despite the clear will of the people’s representatives through DOMA.
Conservative media personality Glenn Beck, on his radio program, worried about dissolving the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman: “Who are you to say that if I’m a devout Muslim, and I come over here and have three wives, who are you to say -- if I’m an American citizen -- that I can’t have multiple marriages?”
While the rulings were a setback, the Supreme Court’s did not hand down a decision about other states’ gay-marriage ban, prompting conservative leaders to urge same-sex marriage opponents to take their fight to a state-by-state level.
“It is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman,” Republican U.S. House speaker John Boehner said in a statement.
10:06 a.m.: NEW YORK -- At a news conference Wednesday, Edith Windsor, 83, the lesbian widow from New York who brought the case against the Defense of Marriage Act, remembered her deceased spouse Thea Spyer, saying “Thea would have been so happy and proud to see how far we have come in our fight to ensure that all gay and lesbian couples are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
Windsor filed the suit after she was required to pay $363,000 in estate taxes after the death of her longtime partner and spouse. A surviving spouse would not owe any such tax if the government had recognized their marriage as legal.
“DOMA violated the fundamentally American principles of fairness and equality “ she said. “Because of today’s Supreme Court ruling every child born today will be able to grow up in a world without doma -- a world where the federal government won’t discriminate against their marriages no matter who they are.
Windsor said she cried in joy upon hearing the ruling and never let herself become too sure she would win.
“I thought our arguments were sound and everyone else’s were insane” said Windsor, clad in a black pantsuit and long string of pearls. She said she had prepared two speeches: “One was a total win. One was total loss.”
Asked what prompted her at her age to launch the fight, Windsor described the heartbreak after Spyer’s death, followed by the anger at getting a $360,000 bill from the IRS. She said she was “overwhelmed by a sense of injustice and unfairness” and decided to “sue to get my money back.”
Windsor described the legal battle as “joyous” because of the activism it sparked. “If I had to survive Thea, what a glorious way to do it.”
9:45 a.m.: Elected officials from California and states across the nation that already allow gay marriage voiced their support following two landmark Supreme Court decisions.
Wednesday, the court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and cleared the way for gay marriages in California in a procedural decision.
Senator Barbara Boxer said her spirits were “soaring” following the decisions. The Supreme Court, she said, “reaffirmed the promise of America by rejecting two blatantly unconstitutional measures that discriminated against millions of our families.”
In Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the decisions “another momentous step on the path to full equality.”
“By striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court has affirmed a basic American truth: bigotry and bias have no place in our laws,” he said.
Meanwhile, politicians from Massachusetts and New York, where gay marriage is already legal, lauded the high court.
“In the weeks and months ahead, the nation will realize what we in Boston and Massachusetts have long known: we should be free to marry the person we love,” Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement. “We are one Boston – a victory for our gay and lesbian friends is a victory for all of us.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called the decisions “groundbreaking civil rights victories for the LGBT community.”
“It is my hope that today’s breakthrough decisions will propel our nation forward and finally allow all Americans to be granted the same rights and protections under the law,” he said.
9:07 a.m.: President Obama applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday, calling it “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.”
Obama said he has directed his staff to “review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.”
However, he also nodded to the sensitivity of the issue, acknowledging that “our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital.”
“How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions,” he said. “Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.”
Still, the President called the rulings “a victory” for couples that have fought for equal treatment.
“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.”
8:44 a.m.: Supporters of Prop. 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act released statements Wednesday criticizing the Supreme Court’s decisions, saying the rulings stripped power from voters and lawmakers.
Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponent of Proposition 8 said his organization was “pleased that the Supreme Court has reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ misguided decision that sought to invalidate Proposition 8.”
“For the more than seven million Californians who have seen their vote stripped away from them, little by little, over the course of five years, that decision is gratifying.”
He continued: “While it is unfortunate that the Court’s ruling does not directly resolve questions about the scope of the trial court’s order against Prop 8, we will continue to defend Prop 8 and seek its enforcement until such time as there is a binding statewide order that renders Prop 8 unenforceable.”
House Speaker John Boehner issued a reminder that “Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis and President Clinton signed it into law.”
“While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances. A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”
8:24 a.m.: California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted his praise of the ruling Wednesday morning:
Love rules the day. #prop8 #doma #marriageequality #SCOTUS — Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 26, 2013
8:08 a.m.: Many of the most important players in the cases that unfolded this morning held a news conference outside the Supreme Court Wednesday morning.
Attorney David Boies, who argued the Prop. 8 case before the court, called Wednesday “a wonderful day.”
“This is a wonderful day for our plaintiffs,” he said. “It’s a wonderful day for everyone around this country, and in California in particular, that wants to be able to marry the person they love. But it’s a wonderful day for America because we have now taken another important step toward guaranteeing the promise that is in our constitution … that all people are created equal.”
Kris Perry, a plaintiff in the Prop. 8 case, said the decision sends a message to the nation’s children.
“We believe that the importance of this case was to send a message to the children of this country that you are just as good as everybody else no matter who you are, no matter who your parents are,” she said. “Today we can go back to California and say to our own children – all four of our boys – your family is just as good as everybody else’s family.”
7:35 a.m.: The Supreme Court today opened the door for same-sex marriages to resume in California by turning away the defenders of Proposition 8.
The court’s procedural action sends the case back to California, where state and federal judges and the state’s top officials have said they support gay marriage as a matter of equal rights.
7:25 a.m.: President Obama this morning tweeted:
Today’s DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for #MarriageEquality. #LoveIsLove — Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 26, 2013
7:17 a.m.: The Democratic National Committee says “Today is a very good day.”
In a statement, the committee said:
“Today is a very good day -- both for the married couples who will finally enjoy the federal benefits and protections they’ve been denied for years, and for all Americans who want to live in a country where everyone is treated equally under the law.
By striking down the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court took an important step toward equality -- but we still have so much further to go.
Equality shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but unfortunately, right now it is. The Republicans oppose marriage equality in their official party platform, and the vast majority of my Republican colleagues in Congress agree with that position.
Given how much progress we’ve made on this issue in such a short period of time, it’d be easy to think that achieving full equality for all Americans is inevitable.
But that’s not true. If we hadn’t fought for it, today wouldn’t have happened.”
7:07 a.m.: The Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act today, ruling that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as all other married couples.
The decision voids the section of the 1996 law that denied tax breaks and other federal benefits to more than 100,000 gay couples who have married legally.
The court could resolve the case in a variety of ways.
It could uphold or reject Proposition 8, dismiss the case as improvidently granted, return the case to an appeals court for reconsideration or rule that ProtectMarriage, the sponsors of the marriage ban, did not have legal standing to bring the appeal.
Supreme Court justices sounded closely split on gay marriage when the Prop. 8 case was argued before them in March. Much attention fell on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who, in the run-up to Wednesday’s expected decision, has beenwidely seen as the swing vote on a deeply divided court.
The court is expected to issue a decesion between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Times will compile reaction to Monday’s decision on Politics Now. Check back throughout the day for updates.
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