“Because of inequities in the administration of more than 1,100 federal laws affected by DOMA, it is still necessary to introduce legislation to repeal DOMA and strike this law once and for all," Feinstein said Wednesday in a statement.
“Congress is going to have to grapple with the implications of the DOMA decision,” Sanders said. “Or else the courts are going to have to step in.”
Federal workers now may apply for health and pension benefits for their same-sex spouses, but maybe not in every state. Married same-sex couples in the military can qualify for base housing, relocation assistance, family support services and veterans benefits at least in the states that allow them to marry. But members of the armed forces frequently move from state to state.
“Couples in the military who work for the federal government are going to have the most unresolved questions,” said Baude, who clerked for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
In a statement Wednesday, the Defense Department welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision and said it would consult with the White House and federal agencies on how to implement it, "as soon as possible."
"The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses – regardless of sexual orientation," the Pentagon said. "That is now the law and it is the right thing to do."
For all the uncertainties it creates, the court’s decision eliminates one: whether same-sex spouses are eligible for immigration benefits. Until the ruling Wednesday, thousands of gays and lesbians born outside the country were living in legal limbo because though they were legally married to U.S. citizens, the federal government wouldn’t allow them to apply for green cards.
The issue came up during the recent Senate immigration debate. Some Republicans threatened to withdraw their support from the bill if it included benefits for binational same-sex couples. Democrats set aside the provision, hoping the Supreme Court would resolve it.
Because immigration is a federal issue, state law won’t matter when same-sex couples apply for green cards. Lavi Soloway, a New York immigration attorney for many such couples, called the court’s ruling “clear as a bell.”
“This is a watershed moment,” he said. “It will bring gay and lesbian Americans into our immigration system.”