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Religious Tolerance logo

Federal "Defense of marriage act" (DOMA)


2004 to 2013-JUN:
Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of DOMA,
from federal District Courts to the U.S. Supreme Court

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In this web site:
"DOMA" refers to federal and state Defense of Marriage Acts.
"SSM" means same-sex marriage & refers to marriage by same-sex couples.
means the U.S. Supreme Court.
"LGB" means lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals.
"LGBT" means lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.

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Very brief timeline of federal lawsuits against DOMA:

During 2004 to 2008, some lawsuits were launched to have the federal DOMA law declared unconstitutional; none succeeded. However, starting in 2009, later challenges to DOMA were all successful. In 2010, Edith Windsor launched a lawsuit against DOMA in the Southern New York federal District Court: Windsor v. United States. She won. In early 2011, the Obama Administration decided that they would no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA in courts. By the middle of that year, there were allegedly more than a dozen court cases similar to Windsor v. United States. By mid-2012, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the District Court's decision.

In late 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted Windsor v. United States for appeal. Massive numbers of amicus curiae (friend of the court) legal briefs have been filed for or against the constitutionality of DOMA. Oral arguments are scheduled for 2013-MAR-27. A final ruling is expected from the court in late 2013-JUN.

Whatever the Supreme Court's ruling, it will not have any impact on whether same-sex couples can marry; that is decided separately by each state. However, if the federal DOMA bill is found to be unconstitutional, then legally married same-sex couples will start to be treated equally by the federal government. They and their children will have access to 1,048 federal benefits and protections, just as opposite-sex marriage couples have had for years.

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Topics covered in this section:

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above menu. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Julie Bolcer, "Cuomo calls for end of DOMA,", 2011-OCT-28, at:
  2. Andrew Harmon, "Gay service members sue for equal benefits," The Advocate, 2011-OCT-27, at:
  3. Miranda Leitsinger, "Did Supreme Court justice tip hand on gay marriage," NBC News, 2012-SEP-20. at:

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Site navigation:

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > SSM > SSM menu > DOMA > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > SSM > SSM menu > DOMA > here

Copyright © 2009 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-MAR
Latest update: 2013-JUN-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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