Law Dictionary

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

Law 100 Stat. 2419 (1996)
  1. 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. ___ (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, 570 U.S. ___ (2015), the Supreme Court held that states cannot deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry.


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