Nightly News | June 26, 2013
>>> good evening. gay couples across this country were today handed a sweeping victory by a majority of the justices of the supreme court . took on two cases, one to allow married partners ll federal benefits , the other having to do with gay marriage in california . like so many other things in modern times , the framers of the constitution could not have foreseen this issue. made no mention of same-sex couples in the constitution, and while the justices did not suddenly make gay marriage the law of the land , they did strike down barriers in the states that have allowed it so far in the most important ruling ever on gay rights . we have it all covered with pete williams at the court.
>> reporter: brian, good evening. they didn't go as far as gay rights advocates hoped. didn't order all states to allow same-sex marriage but it will have an immediate impact on tens of thousands of gay couples nationwide. gay rights supporters cheered the decision. first striking down a law passed by congress in 1996 , the defense of marriage act , known as doma .
>> doma is dead
>> reporter: it blocked the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and depriving couples of benefits other couples have. in a 5-4 ruling, they said doma serves no legitimate government purpose and demeans those who are in a lawful same-sex marriage and humiliating tens of thousands of children raised by same-sex couples . eddie windsor, socked with a $360,000 tax bill, when her spouse died, leaving her the estate. doma blocked the irs from considering them married and exempt from state taxes.
>> we won everything we asked and hoped for. wow. i'm honored and humbled and overjoyed to be here today.
>> reporter: in the second 5-4 decision, this time by chief justice roberts , the court tossed out an appeal involving proposition 8. it stopped same-sex marriage in california . the people that put prop 8 on the ballot had no authority to appeal as a lower court struck it down unconstitutional. it's not enough to have a keen interest in the case to file an appeal. instead, someone must have suffered a concrete injury he said, and the prop 8 supporters didn't have it. for the two california couples who challenged the law, that's the answer they wanted.
>> now we will be married and equal to every other family in california .
>> today is a good day . today i finally get to look at the man that i love and finally say, will you please marry me?
>> reporter: a short time later, their interview on msnbc was interviewed by a call from the president on air force one.
>> thank you so much for your support.
>> be very proud of today, and, you know, you're -- you have affected a whole lot of people everywhere.
>> reporter: p
>> reporter: opponents did take some comfort.
>> i am relieved this debate will go on.
>> reporter: with a boost of to one side on scotus blog.
>> they give marriage a moral underpinning, with the supreme court saying forcefully, these relationships deserve equal treatment under the law.
>> reporter: california has to wait at least a month before resuming same-sex marriage to let the court process play out. and the obama administration is rewriting hundreds of key rules now that doma is dead.
>> and chief justice kennedy becomes the leading voice. pete, thank you for leading us off.