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Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

Definition - What does Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) mean?

The Defense of Marriage Act is a federal law that does not federally recognize same-sex marriages and that also allows individual states the right to do the same. Different states enacted laws in opposition to this law, while other states have adopted laws in support of it.

Originally taken in 1996, the law has two provisions within it:

  1. No state or Indian territory has the legal obligation to recognize marriages between members of the same sex that were legitimatized or recognized in another state.
  2. The federal government must accept that the definition of marriage is one that is between a man and a woman.

Justipedia explains Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

Different states might offer an alternative form of marital recognition for members of the same sex in the way of a civil partnership agreement. By effect, it would allow members of the same sex to have the same legal rights to health insurance, taxes and inheritance as heterosexually married couples enjoy.

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