In a landmark ruling in favor of the nation's LGBT community, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning stuck down the controversial Defense of Marriage Act which had restricted the definition of marriage.
In a divided 5-4 court, the majority ruled that legally married gay men and women are entitled to claim the same federal benefits that are available to opposite-sex married couples.
Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were in the minority.
Writing for the major, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "The federal (DOMA) statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity."
DOMA was signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 1996. He has since said that he regretted putting his signature to the law.
Today's ruling immediately extends many federal benefits, including Social Security survivor payments and federal tax deductions to same-sex couples.