Supreme Court Strikes Down Defense Of Marriage Act

Source: Pete Williams and Erin McClam / NBC News

In a landmark ruling for gay rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

The decision was 5-4, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The law helps determine who is covered by more than 1,100 federal laws, programs and benefits, including Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights and family leave.

The ruling comes as states are authorizing gay marriage with increasing speed — 12 plus the District of Columbia now allow it — and with public opinion having turned narrowly in favor of gay marriage.

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