Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA: Implications for Maryland

The Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 were both struck down by the Supreme Court Wednesday.

American University students Sharon Burk and Molly Wagner embrace outside the Supreme Court after the court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by upholding a lower court ruling against the measure. (Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
American University students Sharon Burk and Molly Wagner embrace outside the Supreme Court after the court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by upholding a lower court ruling against the measure. (Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The Supreme Court of the United States on Wednesday struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, entitling all married same-sex couples to federal recognition and benefits.

CNN reports the vote was 5-4, with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the opinion, sided with the court's liberal wing. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito wrote dissents.

The Supreme Court dismissed a case on Proposition 8 due to standing, so a lower court ruling against the measure stands, and same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in California.

The DOMA ruling means married couples in Maryland will be entitled to tax benefits, legal privileges and other rights previously only available to heterosexual couples.

The court is also set to rule Wednesday on a challenge to Proposition 8, a successful 2008 California ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage there.

Maryland was one of three states to approve same-sex marriage at the ballot box in 2012, after a General Assembly bill was petitioned to referendum. With the court's ruling on the California law, same-sex marriage is currently legalized or set to become legalized in Washington, DC and 13 states, including neighboring Delaware (where a law is set to go in effect on July 1).

Gov. Martin O'Malley, long a champion of Maryland's same-sex marriage legislation, applauded the ruling.

"This ruling is a powerful step forward for those who live in states like Maryland," O'Malley said in a statement. "But the Court's decisions make clear there is still more work to do as a nation to achieve greater respect for the rights and human dignity of all."

In February, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler filed briefs with the Supreme Court supporting the challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8.

"Today is a historic moment in civil rights history, with Supreme Court decisions striking down Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional and dismissing the Proposition 8 appeal, letting stand a district court opinion declaring that law unconstitutional and paving the way for marriage equality in California," Gansler said in a statement. "Now we must work together to write the next chapter – achieving marriage equality in all 50 states.”

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot Tweeted that he was "proud" of the Supreme Court's ruling.
Anthony Lopes June 26, 2013 at 01:29 PM
so i guess the next step is to allow minors to marry into any age group because we also don't want to leave them out. While we are on that subject we should also allow prostitution because we shouldn't discriminate a female body part. And then when that is all done lets use our pets as a dependent because again we can't leave them out too.
Voice of Reason June 26, 2013 at 02:08 PM
Don't be an idiot. Children and pets can't consent to enter into a contract (like a marriage).
Sanchez June 26, 2013 at 02:19 PM
We will see true equality and non-discrimination when 3 or more people in a loving relationship are afforded the same rights as homosexuals have now. Sadly too few homosexuals support marriage of more than one person and are more than willing to discriminate against others now that they have their right to marry.
Sanchez June 26, 2013 at 02:22 PM
VOR, in some states children can consent to marriage. If we are to consider 16 year olds as children as many indeed are.
Voice of Reason June 26, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Not quite. In every state minors can get married as long as a parent provides either written consent or shows consent by attending the signing of marriage documents. Some states (to include Maryland) provide waivers if the bride is pregnant. See link below.
Voice of Reason June 26, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Sanchez June 26, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Your link shows my comment to be true.
Voice of Reason June 26, 2013 at 04:08 PM
How so? Children might consent in that they agree to the act of getting married but they can't legally provide consent to a legal binding contract (unless they're emancipated I believe). That's why their parents have to give consent prior to the child's marriage Either way we're getting off track. Good day for America.
Marc Riley June 27, 2013 at 09:35 AM
I expect to see this kind of nonsense being spewed on U.S. Internet outlets such as Yahoo and MSN, given the ignorance levels and general bigoted frustration across the conservative states. But when I see this crap locally it starts to concern me a bit. Sanchez and Anthony, the people who benefited from these monumental decisions, do not expect you to fully "get it". Furthermore, now that the decisions have been made, we kind of figured you would go down this old and tired "what if" road. All I can say at this point is this, you might want to put your tinfoil hat on, and go hide in the basement because this thing called equality is really starting to ramp up.
Jd June 27, 2013 at 09:45 AM
The real problem here is that "the people" of California voted against gay marriage, and the court saw past that.
Sanchez June 27, 2013 at 09:54 AM
Marc Riley seems to be the bigot here by insulting all who disagree with he ruling or him. No tolerance in Marc Riley's world for any other opinion but his. Truly disturbing so many like him are out there. Marc Riley, the new face of left bigotry and intloerance.
Marc Riley June 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Expected. No further comment. Have a wonderful day, I know I am.
Voice of Reason June 27, 2013 at 10:19 AM
JD, the power of the popular vote only goes so far. People can't band together and use what's known as the 'tyranny of the majority' to restrict someone's protected Constitutional rights. If the majority of people in Maryland got together and all voted to take away property rights for blacks or restrict voting rights for the handicapped then surely you'd be able to see that those votes wouldn't pass Constitutional muster. So how does it pass muster in this case?
Voice of Reason June 27, 2013 at 10:29 AM
And yes, clearly the people screaming about how homosexuals are disgusting perversions and deserve to burn in hell are the oppressed ones here. It's those evildoers who value sickening concepts like 'leaving people alone' and 'minding your own business' that are the wicked taskmasters whose scourge continues to lash at the backs of the poor huddled Evangelicals who simply want to rewrite the Constitution to base law off of their Bronze Age-era dogma.
Chris W June 27, 2013 at 05:29 PM
I think the argument for DOMA is that society benefitS from having a stable two parent family raising children. The idea is that we give traditional married couples additional benefits for th good of society. I'm not saying I agree, just that this is the motivation. Yesterday it would seem that the SCOTUS affirmed that the right of individuals is greater than the rights of society in general.
Dr. Dave June 27, 2013 at 06:04 PM
Except, VOR and Chris W, nothing in the court rulings yesterday said homosexuals have a right to marry under the U.S. Constitution. They said the states have the right to decide under their constitutions to decide who can and cannot be married. The court said, in their DOMA ruling, if two people can be married in their state, the federal government cannot deny them equal rights or benefits of any other married couple. So Jd or Mark aren't talking about rewriting the Constitution at all. They're saying the state of California has a process for making law and they followed it - the legislature passed a law, the people petitioned to have a proposition put on the ballot to overturn the law (redress - in the California Constitution), the proposition passed to overturn the law, and a Federal District Court (known for it's liberal bent) overruled the vote of the people, and the SCOTUS upheld that lower court ruling and ignored what the people of the state voted for. They weren't ruling at all on what the U.S. Constitution said about gay marriage. BTW, I'm in favor of gay marriage and believe gay couples should have the same rights as hetero couples like my wife and i have.
Chris W June 27, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Odd that the left half of the court would so strongly support states rights. Then again they do say politics makes strange bedfellows .
Dr. Dave June 27, 2013 at 08:32 PM
I think the left or the right will support or not support states' rights whenever it suits their own ideological purposes. It's a shame all the justices seem to have become so strident about their ideology, though. In the past, justices used to surprise us with how they left their ideology at the door to the court, but that doesn't seem to happen much any more.
Eddie Stevenson June 29, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Now I have some of the same right everyone else has and there isn't a damned thing anyone can do about it!
Tom Barnes July 01, 2013 at 09:43 AM
Chris W - Good of society? Really?? I am gay. I have been in a "civil union" since 2000 (and together for 15 years total). We have 2 awesome kids (both turning 18 - one is the SGA president and Senior class president of his school and the other is Honors student with a 4.09 gpa). One I assumed parenting responsibilities of the second he was born (literally) and the other we adopted 10 years ago. We have fostered quite a few of those kids that come from those relationships you claim "are for the good of society". I think recognition of our relationship IS for the good of society. Work on something that ISN'T for the good of our society: Like 1 day marriage, divorce, wife beaters, child beaters... But this one? This is a false claim you make. By the way - I have yet to foster a child that was abused in a gay or lesbian led household. Gee.... what do we make of THAT?
Chris W July 03, 2013 at 09:08 AM
Tom, I was simply explaining why the Goverment is in the marriage business in the first place. As I said in my original comment that I was not agreeing withe the idea, just providing some context. The government involvement in marriage gave preferential treatment to one group for the good of society (in their opinion) and that is clearly wrong. What I am saying is that this ruling affirms that the right of an individual supersedes any perceived collective right. I just hope SCOTUS is consistent and protects individual rights when all the new gun bans work their way up to the court.


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