US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:
The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act. The department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies. The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses — regardless of sexual orientation — as soon as possible. That is now the law and it is the right thing to do.
Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country, and their qualifications to do so. Today’s ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve.
Windsor is a reminder of the fact that the scrutiny rules we teach our students as gospel are a relatively recent invention–less than fifty years old. They were designed to make it easier to think about when laws are constitutionally unequal. But sometimes they don’t really assist our understanding of the issues; they just get in the way. In fact, you actually can explain Windsor in terms of the existing structure– it’s a “rational basis with a bite” case, and that’s how the casebooks (including the one I co-author) will probably classify it. But we should be able to look behind the doctrinal superstructure, which explains little, and see the deeper principles at stake, principles that have a long history in American constitutional thought. DOMA singled out gay people for special burdens in an important area of social life; it declared their marriages less valuable, and therefore, to that extent, it made them second class citizens. Even if this wasn’t obvious in 1996, it is increasingly obvious today.
Some final thoughts after so many years of so many thoughts. Marriage is not a political act; it’s a human one. It is based on love, before it is rooted in law. Same-sex marriages have always existed because the human heart has always existed in complicated, beautiful and strange ways. But to have them recognized by the wider community, protected from vengeful relatives, preserved in times of illness and death, and elevated as a responsible, adult and equal contribution to our common good is a huge moment in human consciousness. It has happened elsewhere. But here in America, the debate was the most profound, lengthy and impassioned. This country’s democratic institutions made this a tough road but thereby also gave us the chance and time to persuade the country, which we did. I understand and respect those who in good conscience fought this tooth and nail. I am saddened by how many failed to see past elaborate, ancient codes of conduct toward the ultimate good of equal human dignity.
The nation’s homosexuals should rest easy knowing their freedoms lie within famously rational state legislatures.
Rand Paul (apparently worried about marriages to extraterrestrials):
I think this is the conundrum and gets back to what you were saying in the opening — whether or not churches should decide this. But it is difficult because if we have no laws on this people take it to one extension further. Does it have to be humans?