Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. The court also dismissed Proposition 8 on standing grounds, allowing marriage equality to return to California.

“Today’s rulings are an enormous victory for loving, married couples and their families,” Capps said. “They are a historic milestone in the march to achieve full equality for all Americans. Our nation’s High Court has affirmed that all committed, loving couples who have married or will marry deserve to be treated equally under federal law. This decision will have immediate, positive effects for tens of thousands of married Americans, including many of my constituents, as they now have access to the crucial, federal protections that all other married couples have.

“As this decision also restores the freedom to marry in my home state of California, I urge Gov. Brown to act swiftly to have the state begin issuing marriage licenses as soon as it can.

“Together, these decisions confirm what so many Americans already believe — that marriage is about making a public, lifetime commitment between two people. There is no reason why marriage should be denied to committed same-sex couples. Marriage equality is a vital step in helping to ensure that LGBT Americans are not second class citizens and have full participation in our society. These decisions send a loud and clear message to all LGBT Americans — you are valued and worthy, your rights are equal to others and not less, and one day you can marry your beloved. Today is a good day for California and for our nation. We have much to celebrate.”

The case Hollingsworth v. Perry challenged the constitutionality of California’s Prop. 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that ended the brief period of marriage equality in California. In 2010, a federal U.S. District Court judge struck down Prop. 8, ruling it unconstitutional. Subsequently, marriage equality opponents appealed that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which ruled in a 2-1 decision to uphold the 2010 ruling that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. Capps opposed Proposition 8.

The case United States v. Windsor challenged the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, commonly known as DOMA. The Defense of Marriage Act restricted and prevented the marriages of same-sex couples from being recognized by the federal government, even in states where marriage equality is legal. By denying federal recognition to legally married couples DOMA prevented those couples from receiving the full benefits of marriage available under federal law, such as the ability to access a spouse’s Social Security or VA benefits, the right to sponsor a spouse for immigration purposes, and Family Medical Leave Act provisions to help care for a sick or dying spouse.

Capps has been an original co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would have struck down DOMA and allowed the federal government to recognize legally married LGBT couples.

Capps is a longtime supporter of equality for all Americans, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people. She was a leader in repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and is an active member of the Congressional Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equality Caucus. Capps supports full equality for LGBT Americans in key civil rights areas, such as employment, health and housing discrimination, immigration status, federal benefits for couples and families, and creating safe schools and places for LGBT youth.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.