To say last year's Supreme Court ruling striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was historic would only speak to what came before the ruling was handed down.

Leading up to the case were fears that the court's conservative majority would set back the marriage movement decades.

In a split 5-4 decision, justices delivered a sharp blow to the law, approved by Congress in 1996 and signed by President Bill Clinton: “DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

The high court ruled that the federal government must recognize the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

The ruling set off a flurry of lawsuits across the nation, most of which cited the DOMA decision.

In the year that followed, 22 state and federal courts have sided with gay couples challenging state marriage laws and constitutional amendments which limit marriage to heterosexual couples.

Without the DOMA ruling, also know as the Windsor case after its lead plaintiff Edith Windsor, far fewer cases would have been filed in the first place.

Windsor, handed down a year ago Thursday, is more than a historic case. It is a turning point for the marriage movement and may prove to be the beginning of the end for state marriage bans.