Will Same-Sex Married Couples Get Federal Benefits?

March 27, 2013

Today the Supreme Court hears arguments relating to federal benefits for same-sex couples. The federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) refers to marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

The Supreme Court will meet to determine if how federal benefits are delegated under DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

The could rule in 3 ways:

  • DOMA is Unconstitutional.
  • DOMA is Constitutional.
  • The Supreme Court is powerless to decide on this case.

If the Act is deemed unconstitutional, all 9 states that allow the same-sex marriage, plus the District of Columbia, will be able to provide married same-sex couples federal benefits, as well as subject them to over 1,000 federal laws and programs.

If the Act is deemed constitutional, nothing changes. If nothing changes, same-sex couples who are married continue to be denied federal benefits.

The there is the possibility that the Supreme Court rules that it lacks jurisdiction because the Obama administration and the plaintiff in this case agree that it is an unconstitutional law and House Republicans can’t defend it.

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