News / USA

    Victories for Gay Marriage at US Supreme Court

    • Michael Knaapen, left, and his husband John Becker, right, embrace outside the Supreme Court in Washington, June 26, 2013, after the court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California.
    • Journalists stake out positions early in the morning to report on decisions expected in two cases regarding same-sex marriage at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, June 26, 2013.
    • Vin Testa from Washington, waves the rainbow flag in support of gay marriage in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, June 24, 2013.
    • People wait outside the Supreme Court in Washington as key decisions are expected to be announced.
    • Plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the California Proposition 8 case, react on steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, June 26, 2013, after justices cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.
    • American University students Sharon Burk, left, and Molly Wagner, embrace outside the Supreme Court in Washington, June 26, 2013, after the court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California.
    US Supreme Court Rules on Gay Marriage
    Supporters of same-sex marriage in the United States won two victories Wednesday at the Supreme Court with potentially far-reaching legal and political consequences. 

    Just after the decisions were made public, chants of “USA” and “thank you” from gay marriage supporters filled the air outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington.

    In a five-to-four decision, the high court struck down a federal law passed in 1996 known as the Defense of Marriage Act that barred same-sex couples from receiving federal tax, health and pension benefits.

    Watch related video by VOA's Carolyn Presutti

    Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Gay Marriage Inequitiesi
    X
    June 27, 2013 8:41 PM
    The U.S. Supreme Court has made a major decision on gay marriage, marriages of same-sex couples. The justices ruled that legally married gay couples cannot be denied the benefits enjoyed by married heterosexuals. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains what this means for gay Americans.

    The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and was joined by the court’s four liberal-leaning members.  The court’s four leading conservatives were in the minority.

    Kennedy cited the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law in striking down a law that barred federal benefits to same-sex couples who were married in states where same-sex marriages are legal.

    Plaintiff Edith Windsor holds a press conference after the court's ruling in New York City.Plaintiff Edith Windsor holds a press conference after the court's ruling in New York City.
    x
    Plaintiff Edith Windsor holds a press conference after the court's ruling in New York City.
    Plaintiff Edith Windsor holds a press conference after the court's ruling in New York City.
    The case was brought by 84-year old Edie Windsor who was denied a federal tax break given to married couples because the federal law did not recognize her marriage to her wife, Thea, who died in 2009.

    “And to the justices of the Supreme Court, thank you for affirming the principle of equal justice under the law," Windsor said to reporters in New York City.

    "To all of the gay people and their supporters who have cheered me on, thank you, thank you, thank you!  I am sure Thea is thanking you too.”

    Video report on reaction to court decision
    Crowd Outside US Supreme Court Reacts to Gay Marriage Decisionsi
    X
    June 26, 2013 9:17 PM
    The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a key part of a federal law that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, giving a major victory to supporters of same-sex marriage. Rights groups and individuals welcomed the decision Wednesday in Washington.
    In a second case, the Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California.  By a five-to-four decision, the high court ruled that defenders of the state’s gay marriage ban known as Proposition 8 did not have the legal standing to bring a challenge to a lower court ruling that struck the law down.

    That decision was welcomed by plaintiff Sandy Stier, who can now marry her partner, Kris Perry, in California.

    “We thank the justices for overturning DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act], she said. "It is so, so important for us and for all families.  And we thank the justices for letting us get married in California, but that is not enough.  It has got to go nationwide and we can not wait for that day!”

    U.S. States That Legalize Gay Marriage

    • Connecticut 
    • Delaware
    • Iowa
    • Maine
    • Maryland
    • Massachusetts
    • Minnesota
    • New Hampshire
    • New York
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    • Washington
    • Washington, DC

    The court rulings do not establish a nationwide right to same-sex marriage.  But the DOMA decision bars the federal government from treating same-sex couples differently than heterosexual couples. Prior to Wednesday's ruling on California, same-sex marriage was legal in 12 states and the District of Columbia.

    Opponents of gay marriage were disappointed with the two decisions, including Reverend Rob Schenck, who represents an organization of evangelical Christians.

    “One thing true about today’s court decisions on marriage, they do not change the biblical or timeless truth of the nature of marriage as between a man and a woman," he said.

    Same-sex-marriage opponents also vowed to fight on, including Congressman Tim Huelskamp, a conservative Republican from Kansas.

    “The court has taken it upon itself the attempt, a radical attempt, to redefine marriage," Huelskamp said. "In this decision the courts have allowed the desires of adults to trump the needs of children.  Every child deserves a mommy and a daddy.”

    President Barack Obama welcomed the court’s DOMA decision. First on Twitter, then later, in a written statement.Obama said the decision has righted a wrong and the country is better off for it.


    Today's DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for #MarriageEquality. #LoveIsLove
    The Republican Speaker of the House, Congressman John Boehner, said he was disappointed by the DOMA decision, but added that a robust national debate over marriage will continue despite these latest rulings.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    June 28, 2013 12:56 AM
    It seems natural that some amount of homosexual people exist among the population because homosexuality is also noticed in wild animals for example including dolphins.I learned recent researchs are revealing homosexuality is possibly caused by some genetic changes during pregnancy.

    I suppose there might be some valuable purposes for homosexual people to be existent biologically as what is like regulating the number of population. So homosexuality is not defined as a disease in revised DSM-5.

    by: HDS26234 from: California
    June 27, 2013 7:46 PM
    If Socialism/Communism had not become a reality in good old USA there would not be a discussion about same sex marriages.

    by: James from: Nebraska
    June 27, 2013 10:51 AM
    Sergei: You are right, marriage is not a "natural right": it is a secular right, long established in US law. It is not the province of a particular religion. (Note that many nations and cultures had marriage long before the majority faith group here even existed, and many other cultures never exposed to it also did.)
    As for your slippery slope argument, nope, doesn't wash. They have nothing to do with consent between adults. On the other hand, there is a slippery slope here, that states like mine are going to be eventually challenged: what if a couple from Vermont or California moves here and has Federal benefits but not state ones? The slippery slope is equal protection under the law. No democratic nation gets to vote on rights, so good on vacating the Prop 8 decision. (The idea the majority gets to select rights was settled by the Civil War.)
    On the other hand, next year will probably be the first time people will "want" to file and pay income taxes - this is a revenue generator (unless certain members of Congress were really opposed to same-sex marriage because they were simply trying to prevent tax rises for the gaily-married. That must be it.)

    by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
    June 27, 2013 9:37 AM
    the governement wants gay and lesbians to have the right thinking,that benefits might and will not last for long..even for the people in a good marriege I.E male/female marriage

    lulasa...the president

    by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
    June 27, 2013 9:33 AM
    no one and government should ever encourage any people to become gays and lesbianism...that will be encouraging selfishness.because gay people don't want to get involved with women,they will actually be hating lesbians too and don't want to do anything with them...and also because lesbians don't want anything to do with men,they will also not want to do anything with gay men..gay and lesbian people just want the world to be a world of same gender and hence their selfishness. lulasa....the president(USA)
    tambua village,gimarakwa,hamisi,vihiga,kenya.

    by: riano baggy from: indonesia
    June 27, 2013 7:15 AM
    now the basic meaning of marriage it change only RELATIONSHIP
    maybe we think now husband and wife can be same sex or we change not say husband and wife only : my dear, my sweet heart etc.

    by: Sergei from: USA
    June 27, 2013 2:38 AM
    "Gay marriage should NOT be legalized for homosexuality is not natural. Marriage should be for the procreation of the species, not to satisfy sexual appetites. If marriage becomes about sexual appetite then what comes next? Incest, bestiality, polygamy, prostitution, rape. Secondly, marriage is not a natural right. We cannot do whatever makes us happy. If I want to go slit a dog's throat and put it on a stake, I can't do that because it's not right. It might make me happy, but what does that matter in life? We can't always get what we want, or simply do what makes us happy because it makes us happy. This only leads to the slow dissolution of our society. Marriage between gays because it makes them happy is a slippery slope, and we can't be on it."

    by: Harris W. Gbahn from: Liberia
    June 26, 2013 9:40 PM
    America is finished, you've brought God's wrath against the country. Remember that in the past you wrongly passed a bill that allows every citizen to own a gun for Self-defense and today you're fighting to repeal that law. This is definitely going to happen in this so-called Same-Sex Marriage law; just watch out your children will take it beyond your expectation.

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    June 26, 2013 8:03 PM
    Apart from whether homosexual marrage is legal or illegal, I am afraid some diseases like HIV infections which are difficult to treat might spread among them. I wonder from where their pro-homosexuality tastes come. From brain function? From some neurotransmitters relating to reproduction? From a special gene? What makes someone homosexual and the others heterosexual?
    In Response

    by: James from: Nebraska
    June 27, 2013 10:58 AM
    Yoshi: Wrong-HIV is spread by promiscuity (and sharing needles amongst drug addicts or bad blood and organ transfusions). Committed marriages with no promiscuity (gay or straight) do not have HIV issues any more than any other disease of that type. As for where it comes from, does it matter? Where does religion or politics come from? A special gene? What makes someone conservative or liberal, what makes someone Christian or Buddhist? (The latter two are geography and indoctrination.) Yes, homosexuality is mostly settled science. It is a shame so many were killed or ostracised for it, like epilepsy because their neighbours were ignorant of science.

    by: Mark T
    June 26, 2013 12:38 PM
    All this started many, many years ago when the Supreme Court legislated away school prayer, removed Bibles from schools and put aside the "In God We Trust" in government. Removal of Christian teaching and morals have sent this country spiraling down to the state we are in today. The '60s and '70s 'awakening' to Freedoms and expressions of Freedom have wrecked us today. It has opened the flood gates of every immoral thing that now plagues us today, and it has allowed the Country to hire a man to lead us down this path of wrong. Now we have the bull by the horns, and an angry bull at that; we don't like it, but we dare not let go.
    In Response

    by: James from: Nebraska
    June 27, 2013 11:08 AM
    I carry a $10 bill printed before 1954 to remind people that In God We Trust did not used to be printed on the money. It was a stunt by Congress, not tradition of the nation. I remember when it wasn't on the money. Muslims died in our own Revolution (look it up). Christian morals are why we had slavery. Prayer was not removed from school: state-written and led prayer mandated by government was.

    No one prohibits anyone from prayer in school, only publicly-led and enforced ones. Jesus told his followers to pray in secret, not like the hypocrites. What are all these immoral things that you decry, that supposedly did not exist before prayer was removed from school, you mean like bullying this atheist because he would not recite the morning school prayer? This is a nation of many people and many notions: if you want mandatory prayer in schools and enforced state religions there are several nations that accommodate that view rather than this secular nation of laws - but I suspect you'd not want to live in any of them.
    In Response

    by: ted from: ontario
    June 26, 2013 3:56 PM
    So much anger using the name of God. If ten percent of the population is born gay, did God not create gays? If Christian teaching is the standard for morals then something went amiss amongst Priests and other ministers over the decades. I too, believe in God, and while personally am not gay, but I would befriend anyone despite their race, sexuality or orientation because I believe God as tolerant and loving.
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.