DOMA: Get the Facts

Learn more about the Supreme Court gay marriage ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

The Supreme Court victory in United States v. Windsor striking down the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) affirms that all loving and committed couples who are married deserve equal legal respect and treatment from the federal government.

The demise of DOMA marks a turning point in how the United States government treats the relationships of married same-sex couples for federal programs that are linked to being married. The State Department has been a leader in protecting LGBT families and individuals and providing equal access to benefits since the beginning of the Obama administration. In June 2009, the Department extended numerous benefits to the partners of Foreign Service officers, including diplomatic passports, access to overseas medical and training facilities, inclusion in housing allocations, and access to emergency evacuation.

In June 2013, the U.S. Department of State applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. In a statement released immediately following the ruling, Kerry committed to work swiftly with other agencies to review all relevant federal statuses and benefits. On August 2, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the U.S. Department of State will now consider visa applications from legally married same-sex couples in the same manner as opposite-sex couples.  Step-children of married same-sex couples will also qualify as beneficiaries or for derivative status under this policy as well. Read more about the federal government's implementation of the DOMA decision here.

At the same time, a turning point is part of a longer journey, not the end of the road. There is much work ahead before same-sex couples living across the nation can enjoy all the same protections as their different-sex counterparts.

Get the Facts on What this Means for You with the LGBT Organization Fact Sheet Series

After DOMA: Resources in English

Después de DOMA: Recursos en Español


Listen to HRC's "What's Next?" DOMA Town Hall Briefing