Friday, June 26, 2015 will go down as a landmark day in U.S. legal history. The long, anguishing wait over the constitutionality of gay marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges) finally ended, with a 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. The close, but decisive, victory upholds the sanctity and recognition of gay marriage—it is now, finally, a national law.
A tense waiting period
While the decision requiring every State in our nation to not only allow for, but to legally honor, gay marriage was “cautiously expected” given the tenor of many States in the Union (36 States already recognized gay marriage), it settles the issue once and for all. The ruling is one of immense proportion and consequence for gay couples and their families. Perhaps more than anything, it’s a relief. Gay couples who marry, or wish to marry, need not fear any further consequence as same-sex unions are deemed valid. That means gay couples can now file joint tax returns as married, both federally and statewide—and each spouse may list the other as a beneficiary on their State and federal retirement accounts. A married spouse can now have equal say in medical and financial decision making on behalf of their significant other. In addition, spouses can inherit from the other according to State law, and they may list one another on his or her health insurance policy. Spouses are also ensured federal benefits as a result of the death (of the other spouse), whether it be VA benefits, military retirement, and so on.
The war is over, but battles continue
While many rights and benefits are now bestowed upon gay couples who are married, there still remain issues that continue to require Court intervention, such as adoption of children, birth certificate modifications, and potentially guardianship actions to ensure custody rights and decision-making on behalf of step-children of the marriage. Even though these battles will likely continue for some time, however, that in no way detracts from the celebration enjoyed far and wide by same-sex couples across America. One thing is certain, this decision was a huge win…and a permanent victory at that.
Do you have questions about the ruling?
We’d love to here from you. What was your reaction to this important case? How does it affect you or your loved ones? If you have questions or want to learn more about custody or guardian issues, please contact us today.