Supreme Court to Hear DOMA Challenge

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will hear a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. DOMA was enacted by Congress in 1996 and defines 'marriage' as the legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." DOMA prevents married same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits that all other married couples receive, such as Social Security spousal benefits and health insurance for spouses of federal employees.

The Supreme Court's decision is expected to come out near the end of June of 2013. Since the case before the Supreme Court only addresses the section of DOMA that deals with federal benefits and taxes, it is unlikely that the decision will have any impact on Florida's version of DOMA which is part of the Florida constitution. Florida's DOMA not only prevents same-sex couples from getting married in Florida, but it also prevents same-sex couples who were legally married in another states from getting divorced in Florida.

The Supreme Court will also hear a challenge to a ballot initiative in California dubbed Proposition 8. If the Court affirms the lower court ruling California will join 9 other states plus the District of Columbia in providing marriage equality for same-sex couples. The Court's decision in this case is more likely to affect Florida marriage and divorce law.