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NASW statement on Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage rulings

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) commends the Supreme Court of the United States for its decision today to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional in the case U.S. v. Windsor.  NASW is also encouraged by the Court’s procedural ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry (Proposition 8)that opened the door for California to resume issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in that state.

Although clear national guidance in Hollingsworth v. Perry would have been preferred, both landmark Supreme Court rulings this week point to increasing national support for gay marriage and strengthening LGBT civil rights.  NASW filed amicus curiae briefs with the Court in both cases in coalition with other professional organizations.

The social work profession has consistently fought for social justice, equality, and constitutional protections for America’s most vulnerable individuals and groups. Along with other social justice and civil rights advocates, social workers have played an indispensable role in preserving freedom and ensuring opportunity for all.  Social workers believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons deserve the same protections and opportunities in their work, family, career and health equal to other members of society. 

Approximately nine million adults in the United States—or three percent of the population—identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Discrimination and prejudice directed against any person on the basis of sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, whether real or perceived, are damaging to the social, emotional, psychological, physical, and economic well-being of the affected individuals. 

Discrimination and prejudice also have a negative impact on society.  Therefore, NASW is committed to advancing policies and practices that will improve the status and well-being of all LGBT individuals and their families. 

NASW is pleased that today’s DOMA ruling sends a message that all Americans have a right to enjoy the financial benefits and equal dignity of a recognized marriage.  The Association and its 56 Chapters are poised to advocate for judicial outcomes or legislative provisions in all states that mirror progressive national policies on LGBT rights.


  • NASW Code of Ethics
  • Sustaining Our Nation’s Social Safety Net 
    NASW Document to the Obama Administration, 2012
  • NASW Legal Defense Fund: Amicus Brief Database (members only)
  • NASW Public Policy Statement on Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Issues
  • NASW Public Policy Statement on Transgender and Gender Identity Issues
  • After DOMA: What it Means For You
    Lambda Legal / LGBT Organizations Fact Sheet Series

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The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with nearly 145,000 members. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.