High court strikes down federal marriage provision

By Peter MacArthur 11:28am, June 26, 2013 - Updated 7:10pm, June 26, 2013
Michael Knaapen, left, and his husband John Becker, right, embrace outside the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The Supreme Court says legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.

The court invalidated a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people.

The vote was 5-4.

Delaware's delegation on Capitol Hill is reacting to the decision striking. Senator Chris Coons sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and was a co-sponsor of the bill to repeal it.

"The decision by the Supreme Court to overturn the law barring same sex marriage is historic, and a testament to how far our nation has come. We are making progress, it is getting better. But today is not the end of our struggle, we still have so much more work to do together."

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Senator Carper says striking down DOMA was "the right thing to do." Carper believes it’s another step in the right direction toward equality for all Americans.

He also notes work on the issue is far from complete.

"With over 1,000 federal benefits impacted by marriage and the rest of DOMA still on the books, Congress and the Obama Administration will need to act to provide legal certainty to married same-sex couples in Delaware and across the country. That’s why Congress must repeal DOMA in its entirety – and why I’ll be cosponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act when Senator Feinstein reintroduces it to do just that,” Carper said.

Congressman Carney says the decision will make it possible for more Americans to take part in the institution of of marriage.

He says it will also make same-sex couples eligible for the federal benefits other married couples already receive.

Governor Markell says the ruling validates Delaware's marriage equality legislation.

Same-sex couples in Delaware can begin receiving marriage licenses on Monday, and Markell says their vows will now be recognized by the nation.

Attorney General Biden says loving, committed same-sex couples have waited too long to have their unions recognized by their country, and today's ruling is a major step toward the basic principle of "equality for all."

In February, Biden and other Attorneys General filed a legal brief with the Court in the US v. Windsor case, urging the Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Supreme Court also cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by holding that defenders of California's gay marriage ban did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings striking down the ban.

The court's 5-4 vote Wednesday leaves in place the initial trial court declaration that the ban is unconstitutional. California officials probably will rely on that ruling to allow the resumption of same-sex unions in about a month's time.

Meanwhile the Delaware Family Policy Council says it's encouraged that the court didn't redefine marriage for the entire country and instead allowed the national debate to continue.

The group says 38 states still recognize marriage as a union between a man and woman and the court's decision today doesn't change that society needs children, and children still need a mother and a father.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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