Group says DOMA decision not a win for same-sex couples

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PHOENIX -- While same-sex couples across the country celebrated the Supreme Court's rulings on DOMA and California's Proposition 8, both having to do with same-sex marriage, not everyone was happy with the decisions.

Not only did the Supreme Court call the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, it also upheld a trial court ruling that opens the door to gay marriage in California.

Those fighting for marriage equality call the decisions a win.

"I don't think they can call it a victory at all," Doug Napier of the Alliance Defending Freedom said. "What they went to court and asked for was a wholesale redefinition of marriage. But marriage has always been defined as the union of one man and one woman for the protection of children. It's what children do best in. They didn't get that.

"I think it needs to be pointed out very clearly that what the Court didn't do is as important as what they did do," he continued. "What they did not do is they did not find a federal right to same-sex marriage. All they did is say, 'This is an issue for the states. We're kicking it back to the states.'"

Basically the Court said the federal government will respect each state's definition of marriage, whatever that definition is.

Laws in most states, including Arizona, define marriage as union between a man and a woman.

"Those states that have taken that route and have upheld the definition of marriage for the sake of children, [that definition] still stands. That's a victory for 38 states," Napier said. "I don't think we're going to see a wholesale change of heart across the country."

But will we see a change of heart in Arizona?

"The key message for Arizonans from the U.S. Supreme Court today is this: Your right to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman is preserved," said Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy in an email to media outlets. "It’s important to note that the Court did not find a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Neither did the Court declare same-sex marriage a civil right on the order of ethnicity or nationality."

"Though Center for Arizona Policy disagrees with aspects of the Court’s decision, we are grateful that the Court did not undermine the will of Arizona voters who strongly supported our state’s 2008 marriage amendment," she continued.

 While Arizona's gay-marriage ban remains intact, lawyer Kory Langhofer said today's DOMA decision could provide support to a challenge down the road.

"Today's ruling probably signals that there could be trouble in the future for Arizona's gay marriage ban. This is the most aggressive support yet by the Supreme Court for gay marriage. It doesn't require Arizona's gay marriage ban to be invalidated, but it signals that in the future, a challenge to our gay marriage ban may be taken very seriously."

The definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman is not unanimous throughout the country.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.

Supporters of marriage equality say the Supreme Court decision on DOMA is a win because they will get the federal benefits that come with marriage.

"If it were simply about the benefits, we would not be having this debate," Napier said. "They can have the benefits. What they can't have is the title to something that has a very special and significant meaning that has meant the same thing for centuries."

He said same-sex couples want to "deconstruct marriage and take it for ourselves to make marriage mean anything and everything, which means it means nothing. Marriage only means one thing -- the union between one man and one woman."

Napier said the debate will continue, but he is confident that the one-man-one-woman definition will stand. He also said it's up to the people to decide, not the government.

"The laws have never prohibited anybody from forming whatever kind of bonds they want to. The only thing that the law has never done -- and that's what the court didn't do today -- they didn't say that the Constitution guarantees the right of two same-sex people to marry each other. Marriage has always been preserved as a union between one man and one woman. That hasn't changed today."

On its website, Alliance Defending Freedom called the High Court's ruling on DOMA "a profoundly disappointing decision."

"This effectively means we will no longer have a national definition of marriage," the site read. "The federal government may now be required to accept any legal definition of marriage that a particular state invents. This leads to many unanswered questions, new government burdens, and consequences that we will have more to say about in the coming days and weeks ahead as we analyze and further unpack this disappointing decision."