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In a highly anticipated ruling today, the Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

"DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment," SCOTUSblog reports.

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes such as Social Security survivors' benefits, insurance benefits, immigration and tax filing.

Section 3 of the law defines marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" and a spouse as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." That provision had been struck down by eight lower courts before the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in United States v. Windsor.

The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

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