Yesterday, shortly after 10 a.m., the United States Supreme Court announced its decision that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevented federal recognition of same-sex married couples, is unconstitutional. The Court also dismissed California’s Prop 8 appeal, opening the door for marriage equality to resume in California but allowing other states’ discriminatory amendments to stand.
Though it is an incomplete victory, the ruling is still a landmark moment for civil rights. “As advocates for marriage equality, social justice, and freedom from religious ideology, we welcome this Supreme Court decision,” said Secular Woman president Kim Rippere. “The attempt by politicians to legislate marriage is religious influence at the most basic level. It is pressuring citizens to conform with a passé definition of marriage based on religious traditions.”
Secular Woman, which signed amicus briefs urging the Court to overturn DOMA, applauds the downfall of the discriminatory law that denied same-sex couples thousands of rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples. 83-year-old Edie Windsor of New York, the plaintiff in the case, was forced to pay more than $360,000 in estate taxes because the federal government did not recognize her marriage to her wife, Thea Spyer––even though same-sex marriage is legal and recognized in New York.
“By seeking to injure the very class New York seeks to protect, DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government,” the Court’s decision on the case attests. “DOMA’s history of enactment and its own text demonstrate that interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages, conferred by the States in the exercise of their sovereign power, was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence.”
The Court stated that “no legitimate purpose” for DOMA “overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
Support for LGBTQ equality is consistent with Secular Woman’s core values embracing human-centered ethics informed by reason and science; rejecting dogma, superstition, pseudoscience, and religious authority as sources of morality and truth; and holding that all human beings are entitled to freedom from others' religious ideologies in living their lives, engaging with service providers, and interacting with government. Secular Woman explicitly affirms that each person has the right to seek happiness through consensual relationships that enhance their lives. We support full marriage equality nationwide and are thrilled to see DOMA overturned.