AJC Welcomes Supreme Court Rulings on Same-Sex Marriage

June 26, 2013 – New York – AJC welcomed today’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that gay married couples are entitled to federal benefits. The 5-4 decision found the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which had banned such benefits, unconstitutional.

In a second decision, however, the justices declined to decide whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The appeal of a decision striking California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage was dismissed due to a procedural technicality. AJC had filed amicus briefs in both cases.

AJC General Counsel Marc D. Stern issued the following statement:

“Full recognition of marriage equality—the right to marry the person one loves regardless of gender—is a right whose recognition is long overdue. Today’s decisions are a large, but, unfortunately, incomplete, step in that direction.

“One of the self-evident truths of the American experiment is that all persons are created equal. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments incorporate that aspiration into fundamental law: they guarantee all Americans the equal protection of the laws as of right. That promised equality is surely denied when literally thousands of laws treat some Americans differently because of whom they love.

“It has taken far too long to achieve recognition of the right to marriage equality, but given today’s invalidation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and the Court’s decision leaving intact a District Court decision invalidating California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage, such recognition is inevitable.

“AJC is proud to have filed a brief in the cases decided today calling for the immediate recognition of same-sex marriage by both the federal government and the states. It also called attention to the need for careful consideration of the impact of that recognition on other constitutionally protected interests, including religious liberty.

“In the wake of today’s decision, AJC will continue to seek full legal recognition of same-sex marriages. Indeed, we will shortly join in one such brief in Illinois.”