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Supreme Court's Finds Against Same Sex Marriage Ban in a Blow to Sexual Orientation Discrmination

The United States Supreme Court struck down laws against same sex marriage today.  This ruling is a giant step in the evolution of our society away from sexual orientation discrimination.  

The Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") reads as follows: "In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." 

In striking down DOMA as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court held:

"DOMA seeks to injure the very class New York seeks to protect. By doing so it violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government. The Constitution's guarantee of equality "must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot" justify disparate treatment of that group. In determining whether a law is motived by an improper animus or purpose, " '[d]iscriminations of an unusual character' " especially require careful consideration. DOMA cannot survive under these principles. The responsibility of the States for the regulation of domestic relations is an important indicator of the substantial societal impact the State's classifications have in the daily lives and customs of its people. DOMA's unusual deviation from the usual tradition of recognizing and accepting state definitions of marriage here operates to deprive same-sex couples of the benefits and responsibilities that come with the federal recognition of their marriages. This is strong evidence of a law having the purpose and effect of disapproval of that class. The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States."

While the Supreme Court's ruling will not affect the rights of employees in California to be free from harassment and discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, the ruling foreshadows the day when full civil rights shall be available to persons of all characteristics relating to sex and gender.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorneys

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