Supreme Court strikes down part of DOMA
(CNN) -- Here are developments as the Supreme Court considers two cases concerning same-sex marriage.
Of course we can't draw any conclusions from the DOMA ruling about which way the justices will decide on California's Proposition 8.
The justices were split 5-4. The majority ruling was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Dissents were written by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito.
Legal expert Jeffrey Toobin puts the ruling in context: "DOMA is gone."
From our team in Washington:
The Supreme Court has struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.
This is the case where Edie Windsor said she had to pay more in inheritance tax than warranted because her spouse was a woman, not a man.
We're reading the decision to see how the justices ruled regarding the rights of legally married same-sex couples to receive federal benefits provided to heterosexual spouses.
There is a ruling in the DOMA case.
So it's 10 a.m. in the nation's capital and the Supreme Court should be sitting. No cameras inside the court of course, so we can only assume they are good timekeepers.
Two days ago, Lady Gaga called on the Supreme Court to "make history & stand for MARRIAGE EQUALITY." That's now been retweeted nearly 14,000 times. But will it have had any impact on the nine justices?
Large crowds are gathering outside the Supreme Court in Washington and on social media. Right now, we can see rainbow gay pride banners and blue flags with a yellow "=" sign that is a standard of those fighting for more rights for same-sex couples. Not in view are groups that support traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but that's not to say they're not there. Both sides were strongly represented when the Supreme Court heard the arguments back in March.
On Twitter, #DOMA will probably start trending soon. There are certainly a lot of people tweeting about the Supreme Court today.
The Tie the Knot organization that wants marriage equality tweeted "The big day is here. Get ready."
And this, from CNN legal eagle Jeffrey Toobin:
"Odd: in spring, it looked like Prop 8 was the big case; today, stakes appear higher on DOMA. #scotus #10amtoday."
It's set to be the last public day of the Supreme Court session, and we're waiting for opinions in three cases -- two of which address same-sex marriage.
It's widely expected that we'll get rulings on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8, and those rulings could affect the lives, rights and finances of millions of Americans.
CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears writes that DOMA, passed in 1996, defines marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes, like taxes. "That means the estimated 120,000 gay and lesbian couples legally married in nine states and the District of Columbia are still considered -- in the eyes of DOMA opponents -- the equivalent of girlfriend and boyfriend."
That meant that Edie Windsor faced a hefty bill for inheritance taxes when her partner of 42 years died. She claimed in court that she had had to pay $363,053 more than if her spouse, Thea Spyer, had been a man.
But Mears points out that the DOMA issue is more than just a financial question:
"The larger debate over DOMA's intent and impact 17 years after passage has driven a wedge between the executive and legislative branches.
"At issue is what role the federal government should play when it comes to marriage - something states have traditionally controlled."
The other key case expected to be decided today considers Proposition 8. "In the 'Prop 8' case, the high court is being asked to establish a constitutional 'equal protection' right. It is the kind of hot-button issue that will define our society, our laws, our views on family," Mears writes.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the union between a man and a woman, unconstitutional.
Check out the actual document: