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Supreme Court issues historic decisions in gay rights cases

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down the final rulings of its current term on Wednesday with a pair of decisions marking a major advance in gay rights.

In US v. Windsor, the court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as a union between "one man" and "one woman," was unconstitutional. The 5-4 decision means the federal government must treat all marriages equally.

The court did not rule on Section 2 of the law, which allows states and tribes to ignore marriages that may not be legal in their jurisdictions. Still, the decision is notable for its recognition of the rights of all Americans, regardless of orientation.

"This status is a far-reaching legal acknowledgment of the intimate relationship between two people, a relationship deemed by the state worthy of dignity in the community equal with all other marriages, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. "It reflects both the community’s considered perspective on the historica lroots of the institution of marriage and its evolving understanding of the meaning of equality."

In the second case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, the court ruled that opponents of gay marriage in California lacked standing to defend Proposition 8. The 5-4 decision clears the way for the resumption of all marriages in the state, the most populous in the U.S.

So far, the Santa Ysabel Tribe is the only one in California with a marriage equality law. Four tribes in three other states recognize all marriages.

In contrast, the Navajo Nation and the Cherokee Nation, the two largest tribes, limit marriage to unions between one man and one woman.

"It's a good day to celebrate the decision to overturn DOMA and the dismissal of Prop 8," Sharon Day, the director of Minneapolis’ Indigenous People’s Task Force, said in a press release that was posted by Indian Country Today. "Perhaps now more of our tribal governments will pass marriage equality laws, after all respect was a value shared by all tribes/Nations observed along with equality between all people including our Two-Spirit people."

Get the Story:
Supreme Court rulings mark bold advance for gay marriage (The Los Angeles Times 6/27)
Gay marriage advocates seek to sway more states (The Los Angeles Times 6/27)
At Supreme Court, victories for gay marriage (The Washington Post 6/27)
Conservatives promise legislative fight over marriage (The Washington Post 6/27)
Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage With Two Major Rulings (The New York Times 6/27)
Federal Court Speaks, but Couples Still Face State Legal Patchwork (The New York Times 6/27)

Supreme Court Decisions:
US v. Windsor (June 26, 2013)
Hollingsworth v. Perry (June 26, 2013)

Related Stories:
Santa Ysabel Tribe is first in California for same-sex marriage (6/25)
Pokagon Band issues marriage certificate to same-sex couple (6/21)
Little Traverse man and new husband invited to White House (06/10)
Supreme Court ruling could affect tribal same-sex marriages (05/09)
Little Traverse Bay Bands recognize first same-sex marriage (03/18)

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