By Don Davis and Reuters
Minnesota Democrats wasted no time to begin cheering the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this morning to reject a federal gay-marriage ban.
The ruling follows Minnesota’s decision this spring to allow same-sex couples to wed. The federal ruling means those that do marry will receive federal benefits denied to gay couples in states that allow them to marry.
“Great year for marriage equality in DC and MN, but there is still work to be done at the federal level,” U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., tweeted minutes after the high court ruling.
“There are seminal moments in our country’s history which have made this country great,” Chairman Ken Martin of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party tweeted. “Today’s … ruling is one of them. Equality for all!”
A U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., tweet added: “Decision affirms that all loving, married couples deserve equal treatment under federal law.”
The 5-4 ruling means that legally married gay couples are entitled to claim the same federal benefits that are available to opposite-sex married couples.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Kennedy wrote.
Kennedy, often the court’s swing vote in close decisions, also said the law imposes “a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states.”
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia both wrote dissenting opinions.
In his dissent, Roberts wrote that the court in the coming Proposition 8 case will not reach the issue of constitutionality of state laws that limit the definition of marriage.
By striking down part of the law, the court clears the way to more than 1,100 federal benefits, rights and burdens linked to marriage status.