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The Defense of Marriage Act was a United States federal law that, prior to being ruled unconstitutional, defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman, and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states. Until Section 3 of the Act was struck down in 2013 , DOMA, in conjunction with other statutes, had barred same-sex married couples from being recognized as "spouses" for purposes of federal laws, effectively barring them from receiving federal marriage benefits. DOMA's passage did not prevent individual states from recognizing same-sex marriage, but it imposed constraints on the benefits received by all legally married same-sex couples.

Defense of Marriage Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act to define and protect the institution of marriage
Acronyms (colloquial) DOMA
Enacted by the 104th United States Congress
Effective September 21, 1996
Citations
Public law Pub.L. 104–199
Statutes at Large 110 Stat. 2419 (1996)
Codification
Titles amended 1 U.S.C. General Provisions
28 U.S.C. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure
U.S.C. sections created 1 U.S.C. § 7 (Struck down, June 26, 2013)
Legislative history
United States Supreme Court cases
United States v. Windsor, No. 12-307, 570 U.S. ___ (2013), in which Section 3 (1 U.S.C. § 7) was struck down by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2013

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Pub.L. 104–199, 110 Stat. 2419, enacted September 21, 1996, 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C) was a United States federal law that, prior to being ruled unconstitutional, defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman, and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states. Until Section 3 of the Act was struck down in 2013 (United States v. Windsor), DOMA, in conjunction with other statutes, had barred same-sex married couples from being recognized as "spouses" for purposes of federal laws, effectively barring them from receiving federal marriage benefits. DOMA's passage did not prevent individual states from recognizing same-sex marriage, but it imposed constraints on the benefits received by all legally married same-sex couples.

Initially introduced in May 1996, DOMA passed both houses of Congress by large, veto-proof majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in September 1996. By defining "spouse" and its related terms to signify a heterosexual couple in a recognized marriage, Section 3 codified non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, social security survivors' benefits, immigration, bankruptcy, and the filing of joint tax returns, as well as excluding same-sex spouses from the scope of laws protecting families of federal officers (18 U. S. C. §115), laws evaluating financial aid eligibility, and federal ethics laws applicable to opposite-sex spouses.

In United States v. Windsor (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Gay Marriage Debate: Bill Clinton Regrets Signing Defense of Marriage Act | The New York Times

TimesCast: The Times's Peter Baker on why the former president says signing the Defense of Marriage Act was a mistake. Related article: http://nyti.ms/ZoHIEF ...

Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act

Special Report: In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act - a law that denied federal benefits to married same-sex couples.

CNN Weekend Shows - DOMA's effect on same-sex couples

CNN's Joe Johns takes a closer look at the Defense of Marriage Act and how it affects same-sex couples.

Defense of Marriage Act Overturned: What It Means

The Times's Marcus Mabry on what married same-sex couples can expect after the Supreme Court's decision Wednesday that the law is unconstitutional.

Bill Clinton to Court: Overturn DOMA

Former President Bill Clinton, who signed a law in 1996 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, now says that the measure is incompatible with ...

Supreme Court strikes down DOMA

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court strikes down a federal provision denying benefits to legally married couples. For more CNN videos, visit our site at ...