There were celebrations outside the Supreme Court in Washington after what has been called a landmark ruling for gay rights activists. Judges ruled in a five to four vote that same sex couples must in law get the same federal rights as heterosexual couples. In a statement President Barack Obama applauded the decision.
The case concerned the constitutionality of a key part of the Defense of Marriage act or DOMA as it’s known which denied benefits to same sex married couples.
David Boies, a lawyer from the American Foundation for Equal Rights said after the ruling: “It’s a wonderful day for America. Because we have now taken this country another important step towards guaranteeing the promise that it is in our Constitution in our declaration of Independence that all people are created equal, that all people have the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
A second ruling has also been interpreted as a victory for gay rights. The case centred on a California state law called Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage. The Supreme court ruled supporters of the law do not have standing to appeal a lower court ruling that struck down the law.
Austin Nimocks, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom responded to the decision. “We are disappointed about The Supreme Court decision on standing but we are happy that Proposition 8 does remain the law of the Sate of California.”
The Supreme Court’s decisions do not affect the ban on same-sex marriage enshrined in the constitutions of more than 30 US states.