What SCOTUS striking down DOMA means for Texas

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Michael Knaapen, left, and his husband John Becker, right, embrace outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, after the court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by holding that defenders of California's gaymarriage ban did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings striking down the ban. 
Michael Knaapen, left, and his husband John Becker, right, embrace outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, after the court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by holding that defenders of California's gaymarriage ban did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings striking down the ban. 

Couples living in Texas with same-sex marriages from other states can now pull federal benefits, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued rulings on the two long-awaited same-sex marriage cases. The second ruling has created a path for same-sex marriage in California, and will not have much of an impact on Texas. But the first ruling struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal ban on same-sex marriages that was preventing many couples legally married in states from receiving federal benefits.

“DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition," Justice Anthony Kennedy, who issued the majority opinion, wrote.

While Texas will continue to forbid and not recognize same-sex marriages, same-sex couples who reside in Texas but have marriage liscences from other states can now pull federal benefits.

"The most immediate effect is that lesbian and gay Texas couples that are legally married in jurisdictions that allow them to be married will now have recognization by the federal government," said Chuck Smith, the Executive Director of Equality Texas, a gay and lesbian lobbying organization. "It means they can now file a joint tax return, it means they're eligible for social security benefits and any of the things that are covered by federal law."

Smith said while the Texas constitution is not changing in regards to same-sex marriage, the trend of opinions nationwide is changing. Smith said both rulings, which are considered victories for the LGBTQ community, could have an impact on the public opinion in Texas.

"The changes in public opinion that are happening in other states across the country are happening here in Texas too," Smith said.

Exactly ten years prior to ruling on DOMA, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that struck down sodomy laws nationwide. Smith said that ruling was historic — and so is this one.

"It is record breaking. It's historic and it is fabulous," Smith said. "I hope the gravity and magnitude of this will have an effect here in Texas, in terms of when people look at our constitution. We need to reconsider that, because there is really no rational basis for inequality."