The 10 Key Lines From the Supreme Court’s Decision Striking Down DOMA

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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

There's a lot to be said about the Supreme Court's 5–4 decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act today. But Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, probably already said it best. Here are ten key lines from his historic opinion. 

"DOMA rejects the long-established precept that the incidents, benefits, and obligations of marriage are uniform for all married couples within each State, though they may vary, subject to constitutional guarantees, from one State to the next."

"[M]arriage is more than a routine classification for purposes of certain statutory benefits."

"DOMA seeks to injure the very class New York seeks to protect. By doing so it violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government."

"In determining whether a law is motived by an improper animus or purpose, '[d]iscriminations of an unusual character' especially require careful consideration. DOMA cannot survive under these principles."

"The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States."

"The history of DOMA’s enactment and its own text demonstrate that interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages, a dignity conferred by the States in the exercise of their sovereign power, was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence."

"DOMA writes inequality into the entire United States Code."

"The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects and whose relationship the State has sought to dignify. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples."

"[T]hough Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment."

"DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others."