The Supreme Court refused Wednesday to rule on Proposition 8.
Massachusetts was the first state to allow gay couples to marry, in 2004. The other 11 are Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the high court’s decisions “groundbreaking civil rights victories.”
“It is my hope that today’s breakthrough decisions will propel our nation forward and finally allow all Americans to be granted the same rights and protections under the law,” he said in a statement.
Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy said while Connecticut has recognized same-sex marriage since 2008, DOMA prevented the legally married couples from being recognized by the U.S. government.
“Having two different sets of laws for people based solely on their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity is wrong and that’s exactly what the Supreme Court recognized today,” Malloy said in a statement. “Simply put, today’s ruling comes down to equality, and when equality wins, we all win.”
In New Jersey, Newark Mayor Cory Booker urged lawmakers to pass same-sex marriage legislation in the Garden State. New Jersey has civil unions that offer gay couples legal rights but does not recognize gay marriages.
“Now that the Supreme Court has struck down DOMA, New Jersey’s Civil Union law is plainly substantive discrimination that deprives New Jersey’s gay couples of more than 1,100 federal rights, privileges and benefits afforded to married couples,” he said.
Seven gay couples and several of their children are suing in New Jersey, claiming that the civil unions are discriminatory because they’re not widely understood and create a separate-but-equal relationship status for gays.
The decision on same-sex marriage rights is not cut-and-dry. It largely leaves the question of whether states pass gay marriage laws to local officials.
“In one sense, it’s a little bit mixed – what they’re saying it, those states, which are very few, that allow gay marriage, what they’re basically saying is – now they’re entitled to federal benefits. OK, fine,” said Catholic League president William Donohue. “The larger question is this – do states have the right to say we don’t want gay marriage? That is still on the table.”
The National Organization for Marriage reacted to the rulings with “dismay and outrage” and condemned those who ruled to overturn DOMA.
“There is a stench coming from this case that has now stained the Supreme Court. They’ve allowed corrupt politicians and judges to betray the voters, rewarding them for their betrayal. It’s an illegitimate decision,” said National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown. “We and millions of other Americans will refuse to accept this rogue decision rewarding corruption.”
One Jewish group, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, also spoke out against the decision.
“Our religion is emphatic in defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Our beliefs in this regard are unalterable,” the statement said. “At the same time, we note that Judaism teaches respect for others and we condemn discrimination against individuals.”
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