In a major win for gay and lesbian men and women in the United States the US Supreme Court voted 5 – 4 in favour of overturning the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), taking a major step towards legalising same sex marriage in the country.

President Obama, who is currently traveling to Africa for a three-nation tour has released a statement praising the work of the Supreme Court in striking down DOMA.

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act,” Obama is quoted as saying in “This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.”

Obama also echoed statements he made earlier in the year, when he actively came out and lent his voice in support of the legalisation of gay marriage. “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,” he said.

In addition to the striking down of DOMA in federal law, the Supreme Court also threw out an appeal of a ruling against Proposition 8 – a ban on same-sex marriages in the state of California.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said that Barack Obama has personally phoned 83-year-old Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the case that would go on to overturn DOMA.

Ms. Windsor had claimed discrimination after she had been ordered to pay over $300,000 in taxes after the death of her partner of more than 40 years, Thea Spyer in 2009. The two women had been married in Canada in 2007. 

While this is wonderful news for marriage equality in the United States it is yet another black eye for Australia as our country’s stance on equal marriage becomes yet more out of step with the rest of the progressive world.

Image: Getty