The Defense of Marriage Act, often shortened to DOMA was a 1996 law passed by the United States Congress and signed by then-President Bill Clinton. The law officially defined marriage in the United States of America as being between one man and one woman. The law was ultimately struck down during the court cases United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges in 2013 and 2015, respectively.
The Defense of Marriage Act was passed under the Clinton Administration in September 1996. The law effectively gave heterosexual couples legal and financial advantages that same-sex couples could not access. In addition to defining marriage in a way that excluded same-sex couples, the law prevented gay and lesbian couples from adopting children. According to the law's proponents, such measures was necessary to preserve the family in its current form and to prevent incest and polygamy—a conclusion that was criticized by DOMA's opponents.
The Defense of the Marriage Act did not prevent states from passing their own laws regulating same-sex marriage, and about 40 states passed laws banning same-sex marriage in DOMA's aftermath. The law remained fully in effect for nearly two decades until the two major parts of the law were struck down by the United States Supreme Court in the 2013 case United States v. Windsor and the 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges.