On the second and final day of the Supreme Court hearings on gay marriage, there seems to be a hint of victory. As reported by Boston.com on Wednesday, a majority of justices have questioned whether the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, is constitutional and furthermore values it as a form of discrimination.
DOMA, as it stands, does not allow the same federal benefits for same-sex couples as it does for heterosexual couples. It is a bill that has been struck down as unconstitutional nine times by federal appeals courts and deemed unconstitutional by the Obama administration and also the person who originally signed the bill into law, former President Bill Clinton.
With gay couples in the nine states where marriage is legal not being able to collect Social Security benefits, take family medical leave or receive many other benefits that heterosexual couples have, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg raised the question of “what kind of marriage is this?”. The law, from her understanding, affects all aspects of married life.
“You’re really diminishing what the state has said is marriage”. She said referring to the regulations of DOMA which in translation leaves two classes of marriage, “full marriage and skim-milk marriage.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor then weighed in saying that homosexuals are being singled out by the federal government which is a form of discrimination and Justice Elena Kagan added that Congress’s creation of the federal rule which impacts one category of people raises a skepticism about its motives. She also says the law was created out of “dislike and fear.”
Overall gay married couples cannot benefit from more than 1,000 federal laws and programs that married heterosexual couples receive. If DOMA is overturned, then gay couples in the states where same-sex marriage is legal will be entitled to receive federal benefits and will be recognized in any other state where it is legal.
Although the second day hinted at which direction the justices may go in, a decision on both cases is not expected to be handed down until June.