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Department of Defense clarifies rules on military benefits for gay couples

The U.S. Department of Defense today announced plans to extend benefits to spouses of same-sex uniformed service members and civilian employees in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision that found Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

The DOD plans to make spousal and family benefits available by Sept. 3. Those benefits will be retroactive to the day of the court decision, June 26.

In a memo, dated Aug. 13 but released to media today, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel lays out the DOD's new rules for legally married gay and lesbian couples.

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Lambda Legal announces first post-DOMA marriage lawsuit — and it’s in the South

Lambda Legal Greg Nevins

First up: Virginia.

Lambda Legal today announced its intent to sue the state of Virginia alongside the American Civil Liberties Union in what will likely be the LGBT organization’s first new federal lawsuit over marriage rights since the U.S. Supreme Court found section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional.

"The end of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act opens a new chapter in our work to ensure same-sex couples and their families across the country are treated with dignity and respect," said Greg Nevins, supervising senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.

"We know that many same-sex couples and their families have waited a long time and we are excited to announce that the campaign for the freedom to marry is coming South,” Nevins said.

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Historic rulings show work remains for marriage equality here

Atlanta Day of Decision rally

Christopher Dellamura joined the military in 1998 — five years after the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gay service members was enacted, and two years after the Defense of Marriage Act became the law of the land.

Now, in not even two years, he has seen both of those policies fall.

“Serving in silence was a daily burden added to the difficulties of serving in the military,” said Dellamura, an Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 stationed at Fort Benning, near Columbus, Ga. “I felt as though I lied to everyone that I worked with and this hurt almost every professional and personal relationship that I had with my co-workers.  Immediately after the repeal, if felt like a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders.”

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ANALYSIS: Marriage equality wins at Supreme Court, but no immediate change in Ga.

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The Supreme Court handed down a pair of victories for marriage equality today, striking down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional and issuing a ruling in a challenge to California's Proposition 8 that should allow gay marriage to resume in that state.

The rulings do not give same-sex couples the right to marry in Georgia, but LGBT rights supporters here will join allies around the nation in hosting rallies tonight. The Atlanta rally is set for 5 p.m. at the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue.

“While we had hoped for a more expansive ruling that would immediately affect the legal status of couples here in Georgia, this is an important step towards the full legal recognition of our relationship.” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, the state's largest LGBT political group.

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UPDATED: Supreme Court rules DOMA unconstitutional; law’s ‘principal purpose to impose inequality’

The United States Supreme Court

In a historic decision for gay and lesbian rights, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned federal recognition of same-sex marriages, is unconstitutional.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority decision, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer.

The four justices who dissented were Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

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Local groups plan ‘Georgia Day of Decision’ rallies

10th and Piedmont

Atlanta LGBT organizations will host a rally at the corner 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue the day of the U.S. Supreme Court issues its rulings on two gay marriage cases.

Justices heard arguments in the cases in March. Rulings will be issued before the court ends its term this month. The next time the court is scheduled to release decisions is Monday at 10 a.m.

Though the date for the gay marriage rulings is not yet known, organizers of the rally are already making arrangements.

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Historic gay marriage decisions expected by end of June

Atlanta DOMA protest

The U.S. Supreme Court will issue decisions this month that could change the fight for marriage equality for a generation or more.

The last scheduled session for the current Supreme Court term is June 24. At press time June 4, gay marriage supporters and opponents alike were anxiously watching the court for decisions that could impact marriage rights for same-sex couples in California and around the country.

Meanwhile, activists around the country are planning “Day of Decision” demonstrations, including a gathering scheduled for the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue in Atlanta.

“Regardless of what those decisions entail, this will be a historic date for the LGBT community and will have a great impact on the ongoing struggle for equality in Georgia and around the country,” reads an open letter to the LGBT community signed by leaders of eight local LGBT and LGBT-supportive organizations.

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[VIDEO] Could Bob Barr now be too pro-gay for Georgia?

former us rep bob barr

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr authored the Defense of Marriage Act, then said he would repeal it. Will that make him too liberal for Georgia Republicans as he seeks to return to Congress?

Barr has a press conference scheduled today in which he's expected to announce his bid for the 11th District congressional seat currently held by Rep. Phil Gingrey. Yesterday, Barr said in a video posted on Youtube that he would announce his candidacy today.

Gingrey, no friend of LGBT rights, is vacating the seat to run for the U.S. Senate post that will be open thanks to Sen. Saxby Chambliss' decision not to seek reelection.