It also ruled that the plaintiffs arguing to uphold the California voter initiative known as Proposition 8 (Prop 8), which overturned the right to marry for same-sex couples in the state, had no legal standing. The original judgment striking down Prop 8 will now go into effect, which will allow same-sex couples to once again get married in California.
Here are a sampling of initial reactions from politicians and HIV/AIDS advocates:
President Barack Obama:
I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal—and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.
So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.
On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision—which applies only to civil marriages—changes that.
The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.
Marjorie J. Hill, PhD, GMHC CEO:
The Supreme Court has made the right choices. This is a historic day, and one that we, and all fair-minded members of society, celebrate and welcome. The striking down of the discriminatory DOMA and the finding that Proposition 8 in California was also unconstitutional advance equality for all people. Combating laws which discriminate against gay men and lesbians is an important step in reducing stigma and creating a society in which all people are valued and able to access health care. These are critical steps as we move towards creating an AIDS-free generation.
Kali Lindsey, legislative and public affairs director, National Minority AIDS Council:
While these historic rulings will do much to advance equality for LGBT Americans, the battle is far from over. Constitutional bans on same-sex marriage remain in place in 29 states. Congress has yet to pass the Employment and Student Non-Discrimination Acts. LGBT individuals in the United States, especially those of color, face higher rates of homelessness and poverty than their heterosexual counterparts, while experiencing poorer overall health. In particular, gay and bisexual men continue to bear the heaviest burden of HIV in the nation ... But while we rejoice in this victory, we must be steadfast in our commitment to continue the fight. Marriage is just one of many critical issues facing the LGBT community and our nation.
Neil Giuliano, San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO:
This is a historic day not only for civil rights, but for the health of our country. Marriage equality plays a critical role in reducing the stigma and homophobia that often prevent LGBT people from seeking out the services they need to maintain their emotional and physical well-being. When we promote tolerance through marriage equality, we bring people in from the margins, we help them to feel more affirmed and connected, and risk taking decreases.
Guillermo Chacón, Latino Commission on AIDS president:
These historic decisions by the Supreme Court will continue to move our country forward in recognizing and affirming the dignity of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. The Supreme Court’s decisions reaffirm equality and justice for all.
U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.):
As a founding member and vice chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, I know that these decisions create a fairer and better nation. I know that we are stronger when all families are respected and supported. By these decisions, the Court has ensured that gay and lesbian married couples are fully and wholly recognized by their federal government, that they and their children are fully respected and embraced. However, there are still places in this country where discrimination stands, where hatred breeds fear, and we must make certain that everyone across America has these protections, and I will continue the fight for marriage equality.