The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law which allows the U.S. federal government to legally deny same-sex marriages, is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ruled today, by a vote of 5-4.

DOMA meant that same-sex couples living in the 13 states which have already legalised marriage, were not able to receive benefits available to other married couples under federal law.

“Although Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the CourageCampaign.org said of the ruling: “Today the nation took another historic step towards creating a more perfect union. This is a watershed moment for equality and a clear statement from the highest court in the land that discrimination and hatred have no place in a country founded on the principles of liberty, justice and equality.

“The judiciary has now caught up with the American public and the tremendous momentum our movement has had since the passage of Prop. 8 five years ago. Love should not be legislated or litigated. We hope today’s rulings settle this issue once and for all as we celebrate loving couples marrying in California and across the country in the coming weeks, months and years.”

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