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Today (June 26), the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) after years of intense protests and debates between gay rights advocates and opposing critics. The ruling essentially means that couples who live in states that have instituted same-s-x marriage laws will now have the same federal benefits as heteros-xual couples.

Gay rights advocates crowded the steps of the high court this morning in Washington, with many holding signs and customary rainbow flags just ahead of the ruling. Around 10:12 a.m. ET, word of the strike down was announced and was widely celebrated on the Supreme Court steps and across social media.  President Barack Obama tweeted, “Today’s DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for #MarriageEquality. #LoveIsLove” in support.

With court justices ruling 5-4 in the United States v. Windsor case, DOMA’s 17-year existence no longer stands as a barrier for same-s-x couples who have been unable to file joint tax returns, obtain inherited social security benefits and the like. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority decision, “DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

California’s same-s-x marriage ban, Proposition 8, was thrown out in a 5-4 vote in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.  Traditional marriage advocates who helped get the state constitutional amendment on the ballot were found by the justices to not have the constitutional rights or authority to defend the law in federal courts after the state refused to appeal its loss at trial.

“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion. “We decline to do so for the first time here.”

DOMA was signed into law by former president Bill Clinton in 1996.

[Props to Politico]

Photo: PolicyMic