US Supreme Court hears arguments over Defense of Marriage Act
The US Supreme Court convenes for the presentation of arguments in US v. Windsor case that challenges the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional for defining marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman.
The Act, passed by Congress in 1996, deals with federal benefits such as Social Security survivor payments and the right to file joint federal tax returns. It effectively excludes same-sex couples serving in the military from the federal benefits that heterosexual military couples are entitled to receive.
Although outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed an order in early 2013 allowing same-sex partners a wider use of family-oriented facilities on US bases, officials continue to withhold access to other services, such as base housing, healthcare and education. The limited benefits for same-sex couples involved in the military are due to come into effect in October 2013 .
A day before, the court was scheduled to hear Hollingsworth v. Perry regarding California's Proposition 8, which seeks to uphold a state law prohibiting same-sex marriage.