Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a federal law that restricts the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples in a major victory for the gay rights movement. The ruling, on a 5-4 vote, means that legally married gay men and women are entitled to claim the same federal benefits that are available to opposite-sex married couples. The court was due to decide within minutes a second case concerning a California law that bans same-sex marriage in the state.

The federal case concerns the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which limits the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal benefits. It permits benefits such as Social Security survivor payments and federal tax deductions only for married, opposite-sex couples, not for legally married same-sex couples. President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law in 1996 after it passed Congress with only 81 of 535 lawmakers opposing it. Clinton, a Democrat, said earlier this year that times had changed since then and called for the law to be overturned.

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