The United States Supreme Court ruled in Windsor v. United States that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional on June 26.
DOMA was a 1996 law that denied legally married same-sex couples many of the benefits opposite-sex couples receive.
Due to this landmark ruling same-sex couples will no longer be discriminated against at the federal level; however, they will not be able to obtain all the same marital benefits due to state marriage bans.
While many believe this is an enormous victory for the LGBT community, there are still many obstacles to overcome on both the state and federal level.
Scott Crichlow, chair of the Department of Political Science at West Virginia University, said he believes this is a major step forward for LGBT Americans seeking equal rights under federal law.
"Basically, we had two systems of marriage," he said. "(So) it's a really big deal for equal treatment for LGBT Americans."
Crichlow said while the downfall of DOMA is seen as a victory, there are still obstacles to overcome.
Same-sex couples who live in the 13 states that recognize their marriages are now able to obtain benefits that come with marriage including health insurance, inheritance, tax cuts, etc.
"The key point is the equal treatment under the law. This will not have an effect on states that do not already have same-sex marriage legal," he said. "It's really up to the states to do what they want."
For now, Crichlow said, it's solely the state's issue, with the federal government not being allowed to differentiate between same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
Atiba Ellis, associate professor in the WVU College of Law, said that in his opinion, Section 3 of DOMA was virtually impossible to defend in terms of its constitutionality. He said it clearly created two classes of people - those who engage in a marriage of one man and one woman and those who wanted a same-sex marriage.
"As the majority of the court found, that created unequal marriages for people who were married in states that recognized same-sex marriage," Ellis said. "It prevented them from getting the benefits of federal law that go to married people.
"Now, of course, there are several big questions left open in the DOMA opinion, which are likely to be litigated down the road."
Ellis said another very important part of DOMA plainly states that a state can choose whether or not to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
"Under the basic law, in the Constitution, it says that each state has to give complete legal recognition to the actions of other states; this is the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution," Ellis said.
"What's important here is that the court dodged the opportunity to rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage itself," he said. "That will happen probably at some other point, probably in the context of a same-sex couple from one state trying to obtain rights from another state and that state denying them."
Daniel Brewster, a sociology and anthropology professor at WVU, said that he had hoped for a bigger step. However, he felt that Justice Ginsburg had recently made some interesting statements about the Roe v. Wade case, and it allowed him a better understanding of why the court wouldn't take the big step to order marriage equality throughout the country.
"The opinion of the court was pretty much what I expected; I think the 5-4 vote speaks to political affiliation," Brewster said. "It's disappointing to me that members of the dissenting opinion position such a complete disregard for the 14th Amendment, but the ruling definitely gives us hope for full equality."
Brewster said the discrimination that the LGBT individuals face in society today is a clear infringement on 5th and 14th Amendment rights.
"I know that the same people who cry foul over the 1st and 2nd Amendment issues are the ones who want to take away the rights afforded by the 5th and 14th Amendments," Brewster said.
"I think in the future, we will see a growing number of states affording marriage equality to all citizens regardless of sexuality."
Jacob Wolfe, sport and exercise psychology student at WVU, said he believes this is a step in the right direction; however, he believes the fight is far from over.
"An individual's sexual preference should not be used as criteria for government officials to violate the Fifth Amendment rights of citizens of this country," Wolfe said.
"To say that I am not an equal person entitled to the same rights and opportunities as everyone else simply because my brain is attracted to members of the same sex is offensive."
"There is still much work to be done - especially here in West Virginia - but without a doubt, it inspires hope that change is one day coming to our society."