On Wednesday, June 26, 2013 our Supreme Court issued a landmark decision, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which legally defined marriage as one between a man and a woman. With DOMA gone, it paves the way for marriage equality and changes the lives of families, like this one here.
Just as important it lifts the ban on the federal rights of children of same-sex couples, including employer-subsidized health insurance in which employers did not have to extend health insurance benefits to the partners of LGBT employees or to their children, Medicaid, Social Security income for disabled children, federal financial aid for college based on the taxes of family filings, and immigration rights. [Read more about how DOMA Harms Children.]
Legal supplements such as medical directives, power of attorneys, and domestic partnership agreements will no longer be used as placeholders for a couples rights of care and property because the state marriage license will encompasses those legal capacities. (It’s amazing how much power a simple piece of paper can hold, isn’t it.)
Socially, the stigma of having two moms or two dads (or perhaps even more if the striking down of DOMA will extend to polygamist families in the future) will slowly give way to a societal norm much like the families affected by the historic cases of their time in Loving v Virginia or Brown v Board of Education. It’s important to note that a key piece of evidence in the famous Brown v Board of Education case was the psychological impact report, which indicated that segregation had detrimental effects on children. If a study of similar proportions had been conducted with children of same-sex couples today, we may have seen the same results. Hopefully, this ruling will abate some of the psychological impact that has already been done.
Most importantly, our country has finally recognized a child’s rights in this social battle. Amongst the many remarks that Justice Kennedy gave when he wrote the majority opinion was one that particularly stood out, whereby he recognized the stigma attached to same-sex couples and their families:
And [DOMA] humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.
The striking down of DOMA was important for children because it not only lifts the second-class citizenship status of millions of children but, also, gives them a place at the roundtable, a chance to be heard, in the ongoing equality debate.
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Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com. We’re pretty cool. Go on, check us out!