Defense of Marriage Act Law and Legal Definition

Defense of a Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal statute. DOMA provides that no state can be required to recognize or give effect to same-sex marriages. It defines the term “marriage” for purposes of federal law as the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, and defines “spouse” for purposes of federal law as being only a person of the opposite sex. DOMA was enacted in response to the fear that if one state sanctioned or permitted same-sex marriages, other states would also have to give full faith and credit to such marriages.