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Supreme Court grants two historic victories for gay rights

(CNN) — The Supreme Court has struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.

CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin put the ruling in context, stating “DOMA is gone.”

President Barack Obama tweeted about the decision, saying “today’s DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for marriage equality.”

The justices were split 5-4. The majority ruling was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. He was joined by the court’s four liberal justices.

Dissents were written by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito.

“Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways,” Kennedy said. “DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” he said.

House Speaker John Boehner was just asked about the DOMA case, but he declined comment until he’s read the ruling.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN the ruling was a ‘great win.’ “A great win not just for the gay community, it’s a great win for the American tradition of equal justice under the law,” he said.

Here are developments after the Supreme Court issued rulings in two cases concerning same-sex marriage.

[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET]

Both the decisions affecting same-sex marriage were 5-4 splits. And the dissenting justices put out some strong opinions of their own.

• Justice Antonin Scalia on the DOMA case:

“Few public controversies touch an institution so central to the lives of so many, and few inspire such attendant passion by good people on both sides. Few public controversies will ever demonstrate so vividly the beauty of what our Framers gave us, a gift the Court pawns today to buy its stolen moment in the spotlight: a system of government that permits us to rule ourselves.

“Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters to much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.”

• Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Proposition 8 case:

“What the Court fails to grasp or accept is the basic premise of the initiative process. And it is this. The essence of democracy is that the right to make law rests in the people and flows to the government, not the other way around. Freedom resides first in the people without need of a grant from government. The California initiative process embodies these principles and has done so for over a century. … In California and the 26 other States that permit initiatives and popular referendums, the people have exercised their own inherent sovereign right to govern themselves. The Court today frustrates that choice.”

[Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET]

Kris Perry, one of the key figures in the Proposition 8 case, said it was a victory not just for couples wanting to wed, but also for children. “No matter where you live, no matter who your parents are, no matter what kind of family you’re in, you are equal, you are as good as your friends’ parents and your friends.”

She added: “We can go back to California and say to our own children — all four of our boys — your family is just as good as everybody else’s family.”

[Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET]

There are a lot of rainbow flags flying today, including on Google if you search “gay.”

[Updated at 11:11 a.m. ET]

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released a statement saying that his group was “disappointed” in the DOMA ruling and “disturbed” by the detail of the Proposition 8 decision but that it also took some heart from the Supreme Court’s actions.

“Their refusal to redefine marriage for all states is a major setback for those seeking to redefine natural marriage,” he said. “Time is not on the side of those seeking to create same-sex ‘marriage.’ As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify.”

He concluded: “What is inevitable is that the male and female relationship will continue to be uniquely important to the future of society. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad. We will continue to work to restore and promote a healthy marriage culture, which will maximize the chances of a child being raised by a married mother and father.”

[Updated at 11:08 a.m. ET]

The Human Rights Campaign, which has pushed for LGBT equality, is declaring two “monumental victories.” Here’s the top of the group’s statement:

“In recent years, California’s Proposition 8 and the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act became symbols of anti-LGBT discrimination around the country and around the world. Today, both crumbled.

“In a watershed moment in the fight for equality, the United States Supreme Court today ruled to return marriage equality to California and to strike down DOMA. The court ruled in the Prop 8 case on procedural grounds, not reaching a decision on the merits of Prop 8 or the broader question of whether the Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to marry the person you love.

“Marriages in California are expected to begin again soon. While a joyous milestone, these victories nonetheless throw into sharp relief the uneven progress for LGBT people around the country — a landscape where states like California are rapidly advancing toward equality, but progress in many other places remains stagnant.”

[Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET]

A little more detail on exactly what the Proposition 8 decision by the Supreme Court means: By dismissing the case, the decision will allow for the lower court decision in California that allows for same-sex marriage to be reinstated. The appeals court stay on the decision will be lifted.

[Updated at 10:59 a.m. ET]

Here’s what Hollywood is saying — some reactions from celebrities, many of whom have campaigned for gay rights.

• Jesse Tyler Ferguson tweeted: Remember the old days when #DOMA was around and gay people couldn’t get married in California? Crazy right!?

• Ricky Martin tweeted: #PROP8 IS GONE! #DOMA IS GONE! #SCOTUS #LoveIsLove.

• Adam Shankman tweeted: #DOMA IS DEAD!!! #SCOTUS has done the right thing, and now the love of my life and I can get our constitutionally guarunteed rights! Wahooo!

• And this is George Takei on Facebook:

“Today marks a watershed moment in history and a tremendous victory for the principle of equality. The 5-4 decision by our Supreme Court striking down DOMA affirms the universality of love — the desire of all people not only to find, but to value and affirm, a lifelong commitment to another person.

“I have lived nearly four score years, and have borne witness to both the heartbreak and promise of true justice and equality in America. Today my heart soars, and my faith in the promise of our great nation is renewed.

“Now, if there’s anything we gays know how to do well, it is to celebrate! Let the joy of this day ring out with PRIDE.”

[Updated at 10:47 a.m. ET]

The key couples in the California case just held their arms aloft in celebration on the steps of the Supreme Court building. “This is a great day for America,” said one of their lawyers, David Boies.

[Updated at 10:38 a.m. ET]

It sounds like we’ll be looking into these rulings for a while — Jeffrey Toobin just said the Proposition 8 case was “a puzzling decision.”

[Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET]

Same-sex marriage can resume in California — that’s the result of the Supreme Court ruling just in that dismisses an appeal regarding California’s Proposition 8.

From our colleague Bill Mears:

The Supreme Court has dismissed a closely watched appeal over same-sex marriage on jurisdictional grounds, ruling Wednesday that private parties do not have “standing” to defend California’s voter-approved ballot measure barring gay and lesbian couples from state-sanctioned wedlock. The ruling permits same-sex couples in California to legally marry. The 5-4 decision avoids for now a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected “equal protection” right that would apply to all states. The case is Hollingsworth v. Perry (12-144).

[Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET]

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN the ruling was a “great win not just for the gay community, it’s a great win for the American tradition of equal justice under the law.”

[Updated at 10:29 a.m. ET]

House Speaker John Boehner was just asked about the DOMA case, but he declined to comment until he’s read the ruling.

[Updated at 10:26 a.m. ET]

The ruling on Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, is in.

[Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET]

And yes, the president was watching. His Twitter account is calling the DOMA ruling “a historic step forward,” though it’s not signed with the “bo” that shows he wrote it.

[Updated at 10:22 a.m. ET]

President Obama was going to be monitoring the rulings on Air Force One as he heads to Senegal, CNN’s Jessica Yellin reports.

[Updated at 10:17 a.m. ET]

Supporters of same-sex marriage waiting outside the Supreme Court cheered the DOMA decision. Reaction is also coming in from Twitter.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC chairwoman, tweeted: “Finally, married couples will enjoy the federal benefits and protections they’ve been denied for years.”

[Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET]

Of course we can’t draw any conclusions from the DOMA ruling about which way the justices will decide on California’s Proposition 8.

[Updated at 10:12 a.m. ET]

The justices were split 5-4. The majority ruling was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Dissents were written by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito.

[Updated at 10:09 a.m. ET]

Legal expert Jeffrey Toobin puts the ruling in context: “DOMA is gone.”

[Updated at 10:08 a.m. ET]

From our team in Washington:

The Supreme Court has struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.

[Updated at 10:06 a.m. ET]

This is the case where Edie Windsor said she had to pay more in inheritance tax than warranted because her spouse was a woman, not a man.

[Updated at 10:02 a.m. ET]

We’re reading the decision to see how the justices ruled regarding the rights of legally married same-sex couples to receive federal benefits provided to heterosexual spouses.

[Updated at 10:01 a.m. ET]

There is a ruling in the DOMA case.

[Updated at 10 a.m. ET]

So it’s 10 a.m. in the nation’s capital and the Supreme Court should be sitting. No cameras inside the court of course, so we can only assume they are good timekeepers.

[Updated at 9:54 a.m. ET]

Two days ago, Lady Gaga called on the Supreme Court to “make history & stand for MARRIAGE EQUALITY.” That’s now been retweeted nearly 14,000 times. But will it have had any impact on the nine justices?

[Updated at 9:19 a.m. ET]

Large crowds are gathering outside the Supreme Court in Washington and on social media. Right now, we can see rainbow gay pride banners and blue flags with a yellow “=” sign that is a standard of those fighting for more rights for same-sex couples. Not in view are groups that support traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but that’s not to say they’re not there. Both sides were strongly represented when the Supreme Court heard the arguments back in March.

On Twitter, #DOMA will probably start trending soon. There are certainly a lot of people tweeting about the Supreme Court today.

The Tie the Knot organization that wants marriage equality tweeted “The big day is here. Get ready.”

And this, from CNN legal eagle Jeffrey Toobin:

“Odd: in spring, it looked like Prop 8 was the big case; today, stakes appear higher on DOMA. #scotus #10amtoday.”

[Posted at 9:05 a.m.]

It’s set to be the last public day of the Supreme Court session, and we’re waiting for opinions in three cases — two of which address same-sex marriage.

It’s widely expected that we’ll get rulings on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, and those rulings could affect the lives, rights and finances of millions of Americans.

CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears writes that DOMA, passed in 1996, defines marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes, like taxes. “That means the estimated 120,000 gay and lesbian couples legally married in nine states and the District of Columbia are still considered — in the eyes of DOMA opponents — the equivalent of girlfriend and boyfriend.”

That meant that Edie Windsor faced a hefty bill for inheritance taxes when her partner of 42 years died. She claimed in court that she had had to pay $363,053 more than if her spouse, Thea Spyer, had been a man.

But Mears points out that the DOMA issue is more than just a financial question:

“The larger debate over DOMA’s intent and impact 17 years after passage has driven a wedge between the executive and legislative branches.

“At issue is what role the federal government should play when it comes to marriage – something states have traditionally controlled.”

The other key case expected to be decided today considers Proposition 8. “In the ‘Prop 8′ case, the high court is being asked to establish a constitutional ‘equal protection’ right. It is the kind of hot-button issue that will define our society, our laws, our views on family,” Mears writes.

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