In the news: A federal Appeals Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional.
What does DOMA Do?
The bill is actually quite short. It defines two words:
- Marriage: “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”
- Spouse: “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
In defining these terms, the bill restricts same-sex couples access to federal benefits
What benefits does it deny?
There are over a thousand different federal benefits restricted, but restrictions include:
- Collection of spouse’s social security after his/her death
- Filing joint tax returns
- Sharing government health insurance with spouse (though insurance has been extended to same-sex couples’ children)
In what way is it discriminatory?
George Mason Law Professor Ilya Somin offers a helpful distinction between gender discrimination and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.