The Supreme Court struck down a main portion of the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday, ruling that legally married gay men and women are entitled to all the federal benefits that heterosexual couples are allowed.
The court, in a 5-4 split decision, claimed that Section 3 of DOMA violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.
"The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.
Special: Should the Supreme Court Legalize Gay Marriage? Vote in Urgent Poll.
DOMA, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages even in the 12 states and District of Columbia that allow them.
The Supreme Court case, Windsor v. United States, was brought by Edith Windsor, who was slapped with a $363,000 bill for estate taxes after her same-sex partner died. If the government had recognized her marriage, she would have been able to claim a tax refund.
The Supreme Court also ruled Wednesday that supporters of California's Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to appeal a lower court's decision that struck down the gay marriage ban, essentially making it legal again.
The decisions caused a wave of reactions on Twitter.
Editor's Note: Get the Navy SEALs Cap – Celebrate Our Heroes
Third US Senate Republican Now Backs Gay Marriage
High Court Gay Marriage Decisions Due Wednesday
GOP Gay-Marriage Supporter Censured
© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.