The majority opinion said that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the rights of liberty and equal protection for gay couples. This ruling means that thousands of gay and lesbian couples who are legally married will be able to take advantage of federal tax breaks, pension rights, and other benefits that are available to other married couples. However, Section 2 of DOMA, which states that no state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in any other state, was not challenged in this case, so it remains intact. What does this mean for Texas gay and lesbian couples? It means that Texas does not have to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in another state.
In this case, Windsor and her wife and her partner were married in Ontario, but resided in New York. Unlike Texas, New York recognized same sex marriages performed outside of the state. When Windsor's spouse died, Windsor could not benefit from a lucrative tax break because DOMA defined marriage as one between a man and a woman. By striking down Section 3 of DOMA, the Supreme Court paved the way for Windsor to benefit from the federal tax breaks because New York recognized her marriage. It is unclear if these tax benefits will be available to same-sex married couples residing in Texas since Texas does not currently recognized same-sex marriages performed in another state.
In the second major opinion issued today, Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Supreme Court dismissed the case on technical grounds. This case addressed California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages. This ruling vacated the 9th Circuit's ruling and left the District Court's ruling in tact. The District Court ruled that Proposition 8 was invalid; this paves the way for same-sex marriages in California, but the ruling is not binding on the rest of the country. Furthermore, the Supreme Court declined to decide whether or not there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriages.
The biggest change for gay couples in Texas may very well be the continued national opinion shift towards the legalization of gay marriages as evidenced by California likely become the 13th state to legalize gay marriages.
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