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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. A portion of the law was superseded by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2013 case United States v. Windsor, and the entirety was deemed unconstitutional by Obergefell v. Hodges. DOMA was officially repealed on December 13, 2022 by the Respect for Marriage Act.

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History[]

The Defense of Marriage Act was passed under the Clinton Administration and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 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 man/man and woman/woman 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.[1]

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.[1]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Defense of Marriage Act" on Cornell Law(Archived on 2022-03-24)
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