Kori Jock, Phil Kotzan and Andrew Somera celebrate a double victory at City Hall Wednesday. Kotzan and Somera said they now plan to get legally married. (Thomas K. Pendergast/SFBay)
Story and photos by Thomas K. Pendergast
(Originally published June 26, 2013, on SFBay, a news website for the San Francisco Bay Area.)
SAN FRANCISCO City Hall — Advocates of marriage equality scored two historic victories Wednesday morning, clearing the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California.
The U.S. Supreme Court declared a federal law reserving the institution for people of the opposite sex unconstitutional, and also ordered the U.S. Ninth District Court to lift a stay on that court’s previous decision, which struck down a California state law reserving the term “marriage” for couples of the opposite sex.
In a 5-4 decision, the court declared the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, clearing the way for married couples of the same sex to receive the same benefits as other married people.
Signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, DOMA reserved legal marriage for couples of the opposite sex.
In Wednesday’s decision, the US Supreme Court said DOMA violated the equal protection clause of the US Constitution because it denied a right for a particular group of people.
This means that in states where they can be performed legally, marriages involving couples of the same sex are now recognized by the federal government and the individuals involved will be eligible for the same benefits as opposite-sex couples.
In the second decision, the court ruled that the authors and proponents of Proposition 8 — the California law passed by voters which reserved the word “marriage” for couples of the opposite sex — “did not have standing” to appeal a decision by the US Ninth Circuit court, which had ruled against the proposition.
The decision ordered the circuit court to lift a stay on the proposition’s rejection, effectively invalidating it.
The circuit court had overturned a previous decision in favor of the proposition by the California Supreme Court, and in today’s decision the U.S. Supreme Court noted that only the governor or attorney general of the state — Jerry Brown or Kamala Harris — had the legal standing to appeal the circuit court’s decision.
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