What did the Supreme Court do in its decisions on same-sex marriage?
First, in a five-to-four decision, the Court, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, held that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. In reaching this result, Justice Kennedy emphasized that he was focusing on the peculiarity that DOMA is a federal law that is making judgments about what is traditionally a matter of state concern -- marriage.
He therefore made clear that although DOMA is unconstitutional, that does not necessarily mean that a state law that denies same sex couples the freedom to marry is also unconstitutional. A state, in Justice Kennedy's view, can assert legitimate interests in defining the parameters of marriage that are beyond the purview of the federal government.
Nonetheless, in invalidating DOMA, Justice Kennedy wrote sympathetically and passionately about those who seek the right to marry.
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