Yesterday, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in a 5-4 decision. DOMA was passed by Congress in 1996, defining married as a union between "one man and one woman as husband and wife." In addition, the court ruled 5-4 that the party suing to uphold Californian's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, lacked standing, allowing gay marriage to again proceed in the Golden State.
The DOMA decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen. In the majority opinion, Kennedy wrote that the "purpose and effect" of the law is "to disparage and to injure" homosexual couples. He said that DOMA facilitated a "stigma" that "humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples."
Former President Clinton, who signed DOMA into law in 1996, recently said that the measure was clearly "unconstitutional." During his campaign in 2008 President Obama told ABC reporters, "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage." Since then he has also changed his position.
Potential 2016 Republican presidential primary entrants are, as usual, more divided. On the record with Politico, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie flat-out said the decision was wrong:
I've made it very clear since 2009 that I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman. I've said that, I ran on that, I've said it consistently. That doesn't mean, in any way shape or form, that I have anything against folks who are homosexual. In fact, I've said I believe people are born that way. I don't believe it's a choice … you were born with your sexual preference. But I believe that the institution of marriage for 2,000 years has been between a man and a woman.
Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, meanwhile, used the decision as an opportunity to reinforce his libertarian principles by questioning how appropriate the issue of marriage is for the federal government to decide in the first place.
In Washington, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio., and House Majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., both described themselves as being disappointed by the decision. In a statement, Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas said:
[L]ike it or not, the Supreme Court is the final word on constitutional matters... It sounds to me that that battle will be moving to the states... the issue is not going away, and there are going to be havens of traditional values like Texas where I don't think the law is going to be changed.
U.S. News' Robert Schlesinger, wrote yesterday that the GOP "is facing the prospect of this issue becoming an ongoing reminder to young and swing voters that the GOP reputation for intolerance is well deserved."
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