In March, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on two cases that could have a profound effect on same-sex marriages in California and across the country.
Status of California's Proposition 8
One case is close to home. In 2008, Californians approved Proposition 8, which added a new provision to the State Constitution that state "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Proposition 8 was quickly appealed and the outcome of the case rests with the U.S. Supreme Court, which will issue a ruling in June. The issue in this case is whether Americans have a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
Defense of Marriage Act
The other case to be decided in June is the Defense of Marriage Act, which became federal law in 1996. This law denies same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits that are available to heterosexual couples.
A brief filed by three Republican members of the House of Representatives, argued that "same-sex marriage is unwarranted as a matter of sound social and political policy."
As of January 2013, nine states--Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington--as well as the District of Columbia and two Native American tribes--have legalized same-sex marriage. In addition, Rhode Island recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
What is perhaps surprising is that the public's feelings about gay marriage is softening. An ABC poll in January found that 43% of Americans support gay marriage while 37% oppose it. This is down from an earlier disapproval rating of 57%.
What Should You Do?
• If you're contemplating a same-sex union soon, ask your attorney to prepare a prenuptial agreement.
• If you are already married and you want a divorce, talk to your lawyer about filing a Petition for Dissolution of Registered Domestic Partnership or a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State's office.
Do you have questions about your divorce, children's issues, same-sex unions, or spousal support? If so, call me or schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of James V. Sansone at 707-623-1875 or contact me by email. You can find additional information on family law, children's issues, spousal support, domestic violence as well as a list of resources you'll find helpful on our website.