Defense of Marriage Act

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Defense of Marriage Act is the short title of a federal law of the United States passed on September 21, 1996 as Public Law No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419. Its provisions are codified at 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C. Under the law, also known as DOMA, no state (or other political subdivision within the United States) needs to treat as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state (DOMA, Section 2); the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman (DOMA, Section 3).

The bill was passed by Congress by a vote of 85–14 in the Senate[1] and a vote of 342–67 in the House of Representatives,[2] and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996.

At the time of passage, it was expected that Hawaii (and possibly other states) would soon legalize same-sex marriage, whether by legislation or judicial interpretation of either the state or federal constitution. Opponents of such recognition feared—and many proponents hoped—that the other states would then be required to recognize such marriages under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. Section 3 of the law—the part that defines marriage for federal purposes as the union of a man and a woman—was ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court judge in July 2010.[3][4]


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