Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A Landmark Victory for the LGBT Community - DOMA and Proposition 8 Overturned.

The Supreme Court Logo
I was scouting the internet looking for research as I was just about to begin a blog on the One Direction Vs The Wanted 'feud' when I read that the US Supreme Court had overturned the Defence Of Marriage Act (which bans same-sex marriage) ruling it unconstitutional. Most of you may not know what DOMA was, as I didn't, but this decision is a huge milestone for the LGBT community and has contributed greatly towards marriage equality. They also ruled today that the Proposition 8 case had no legal standing to appeal against the same-sex marriage ruling in California, allowing it to resume and for gay couples to be legally marriage in the state.

So what exactly is DOMA? It was a controversial ruling, which took effect in 1996, that opposed same-sex married couples to be granted certain legal rights which heterosexual couples had - including tax exemptions, social security benefits and green cards. Section 3 of the Act also stated that the word 'marriage' only meant the union between a man and a woman and the spouse must be a member of the opposite sex, thus blocking federal recognition of same-sex marriage. This was today deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

What about this California Proposition 8 overruling? What's that I hear you ask? The background story to this proposition was that in 2008 California ruled in favour of allowing same-sex couples to get married, but some people (naturally) opposed this and devised a way to block the ruling from taking effect - hello Proposition 8.  Basically Proposition 8 was a ballot asking the Californian electorate to answer 'yes' or 'no' on whether they believe their state should eliminate the right for gay couples to marry. The result were that 52% voted yes and 48% voted no. Fast-forward all the legal jargon... to put it simply, this vote overruled the recent law allowing gay marriage in that state and therefore it became illegal again. However today the Supreme Court said that this was also unconstitutional saying it unfairly discriminated against gay couples who wanted to marry, and as such all gay marriages that took place before Proposition 8 will now be fully recognised in the eyes of the law. If you followed all that, well done.

Love is love.
Whilst all this can be really confusing (and trust me, it took a good half an hour to get the gist of all the different ruling and appeals and what act did what) it's a double landmark victory for the LGBT community. One day, maybe, we can finally all be equal for being who we are. This act was blocking basic rights to people who just happened to be in love with someone of the same gender. Long-distance couples couldn't live in the same country because they weren't recognised as an actual couple and therefore couldn't gain a visa. Married gay couples could not be recognised as the next of kin to each other and as such lost many legal benefits if one partner was to pass away, the list goes on and on.

It really does amaze me how this act has been allowed to stand for so long when America claims to be a country that accepts homosexuality. It's also sad to hear that, whilst this ruling did come through, it did so only marginally - with a vote of 5-4. There are only 13 states in America that allow two loving adults of the same-sex to get married and form a union under law. The day that we all live side-by-side equal, regardless of skin colour, gender, age or sexuality is still so far away, but this victory is hopefully one of many to come in helping us achieve this goal. Love is love regardless of what gender, and today many gay people in America and elsewhere can have their heads' held high because it's a long-overdue step in the right direction.


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