Civil libertarians in Maine are hailing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision today to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.
"This is a wonderful victory for Edie Windsor and for all married couples and their families, and the beginning of the end of official discrimination against same-sex couples everywhere," says Shenna Bellows, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.
The case originated with Edie Windsor, who challenged DOMA after she had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal estate taxes after her spouse died in 2009. Windsor was represented by the ACLU.
Bellows says the decision is significant for same-sex couples in Maine, whose legal Maine marriages will now be recognized by the federal government.
Maine's two Democratic U.S. representatives say they're also pleased by the ruling.
"I applaud the justices for striking down the discriminatory ban that prohibits legally-married same-sex couples and their children in states like Maine from receiving all of the rights, protections and responsibilities marriage affords," says 2nd District Rep. Mike Michaud, in a statement. "I was proud to speak out publicly for the freedom to marry when Question 1 was on the ballot last year, and I was personally proud to vote 'Yes' to allow all loving, committed couples in our state to obtain a marriage license."
"DOMA was a bad law to begin with and the Supreme Court did the right thing in striking it down," says 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree, in a statement. "As voters and legislatures in Maine and states throughout the country have shown, the government has no business telling two people in a loving, committed relationship that they can't get married. Although there is still a long way to go for true marriage equality in all fifty states, as of today the federal government won't be standing in the way of that goal."
Maine's two U.S. senators also expressed support for the decision. In a statement, Sen. Angus King said gay Americans have "for far too long been denied" equality under the law.
"The landmark ruling represents a significant step forward in ensuring that all married couples - all married couples - enjoy equal treatment under federal law and have access to all relevant benefits and protections. An important and good decision today from the U.S. Supreme Court."
Sen. Susan Collins also issued a statement, saying she supports the court's decision.
"I twice voted against amendments to the United States Constitution that would have banned same-sex marriages by pre-empting state laws. I did so because states have traditionally handled family law. I agree with the Court's decision that the Federal government should not discriminate against couples married in states that choose to legalize same-sex marriages."