The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Wednesday a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits. The 5-4 ruling comes largely due to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s agreement with his liberal colleagues, forming a majority opinion. "DOMA divests married same-sex couples of the duties and responsibilities that are an essential part of married life and that they in most cases would be honored to accept were DOMA not in force," Kennedy wrote, saying that the law "places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage." The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by then-president Bill Clinton in 1996 after clearing the House and Senate with overwhelming support. In addition to providing a federal definition of marriage, the law barred homosexual relationships from being recognized by the IRS or the Social Security Administration, and also excluded homosexuals that served as government workers from being recognized as a couple in order to obtain insurance benefits. The Supreme Court on Wednesday also dismissed an appeal regarding California's Proposition 8, ruling that private parties did not have "standing" to defend the voter-approved ballot measure barring gay and lesbian couples from marrying. The 5-4 ruling permits same-sex couples in California to legally marry, but avoids for now a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally-protected "equal protection" right that would apply to all states.