Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Windsor Decision Strongly Worded, Perry Decision Not So Much


As I have previously discussed, same-sex married couples now have full access to a wide range of federal benefits now that the Supreme Court has ruled DOMA unconstitutional.

In the sharply worded 5-4 decision of United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court found DOMA to be in violation of the Fifth Amendment.  Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy stated, “By creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State, DOMA forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law . . . [b]y this dynamic DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition.”

The decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry was much less satisfying, as the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on a technicality.  The Supreme Court found that the backers of Proposition 8 did not have standing to appeal the case, so the Court had no authority to decide the case on the merits.  Therefore, the California District Court’s order will stand, and same-sex marriage will continue in California.  However, the outcome of Hollingsworth will have no impact outside of California.

See Deborah L. Jacobs, In Strongly Worded Decision, Supreme Court Finds Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional, Forbes, June 26, 2013.

Click here to read the full opinion of United States v. Windsor.

Click here to read the full opinion of Hollingsworth v. Perry.


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