Defense of Marriage Act(DOMA)


100 Stat. 2419  | (1996)
defined the word “marriage” for purposes of federal law as a legal union between one man and one woman. It further defined the word “spouse” for purposes of federal law as a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife. The Act also stated that no state was required to recognize a marriage between persons of the same sex that took place in another state. In U.S. v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 744 (2013), however, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the sections of the law defining "marriage" and "spouse" as applying only to opposite-sex couples, and ruled that legally married same-sex couples could not be deprived of federal benefits afforded to opposite-sex couples. In Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 744 (2015), the Supreme Court held that states cannot deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry. Congress enacted the Respect for Marriage Act in 2022, repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and requiring that all U.S. jurisdictions must recognize same-sex or interracial marriages performed in due manner in any other U.S. jurisdiction.

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Cite this Entry

“Defense of Marriage Act.” Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2024.

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