In the last day of its term, the Supreme Court struck down the federal rule known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a 5 to 4 decision Wednesday that paves the way for full federal benefits for same-sex married couples.
"DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.
The federal rule, signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, denied federal benefits to gay couples married in states where same-sex marriage is allowed. Twelve states, as well as Washington, D.C., now allow gay marriage--about half of which legalized it within the last year.
Public opinion has shifted in support of gay marriage in recent years, and national polling largely shows that more than 50% of Americans support legalizing gay marriage.
We will continue to update this story.