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President Obama on Wednesday praised the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, calling the nation “better off” in the wake of the historic ruling.

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act,” Obama said aboard Air Force One, en route to a weeklong trip in Africa. “This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.”

With the 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court found that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, “violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the federal government.”

At the same time, the Supreme Court struck a middle ground between prohibiting gay marriage and allowing same-sex nuptials across the nation. With another 5-4 ruling, the justices said the court lacked the standing to weigh in on the merits of California’s gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.

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