US gay couples benefits ruling

President Obama has welcomed a historic US Supreme Court ruling to allow married gay couples eligible for federal benefits, but stressed it does not change the way religious institutions define marriage.

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Gay rights campaigners celebrate double victory

Gay rights campaigners in America are celebrating a double landmark victory after the Supreme Court ruled that same sex married couples should be granted the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.

Read: Celebrations as landmark ruling asserts rights of gay married couples

A second ruling also paved the way for gay marriage to be allowed again in the state of California, as the court upheld a previous ruling that deemed a provision against gay marriage "unconstitutional."

Washington Correspondent Robert Moore reports.

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Celebrations as landmark ruling asserts gay marriage

Jeff Zarrillo (2nd left) and Paul Katami (3rd left) and their lawyers announce the decision outside the Supreme Court in Washington.
Jeff Zarrillo (2nd left) and Paul Katami (3rd left) and their lawyers announce the decision outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

A crowd of thousands gathered in Washington to celebrate the Supreme Court striking down a part of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples.

The court's 5-4 vote said the Defence of Marriage Act, known as Doma, denied equal protection to same-sex couples.

http://www.itv.com/news/2013-03-26/us-supreme-court-takes-up-gay-marriage-for-first-time/
Crowds cheered as the US Supreme Court announced their decision. Credit: Reuters

The ruling means that previous anti-gay marriage laws denying legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits has been swept away.

Outside court, assembled crowds hugged and celebrated the victory.
Outside court, assembled crowds hugged and celebrated the victory. Credit: James Lawler Duggan/Reuters

The court also upheld a trial court declaration that ruled that California's Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, paving the way for same-sex marriages to continue in the state.

Proposition 8 was approved in 2008 with 52% of the vote and put same-sex marriages on hold.

The verdict read:

"Under Doma, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways.

"Doma's principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal."

More: US Supreme Court takes up gay marriage for the first time

Obama applauds benefit ruling for married gay couples

President Obama has welcomed a US Supreme Court decision to make married gay men and women eligible for federal benefits, whilst stressing the ruling does not change the way religious institutions define marriage. In a written statement, he said:

We are a people who declared that we are all created equal, and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

The US president said the ruling applies only to civil marriages and that how religious institutions define and consecrate marriages has always been up to those institutions.

Read: US court extends benefits to married gay couples

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