Two weeks ago, I wrote about the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on two pivotal cases involving same-sex marriages. Today I'll talk about what has happened during the weeks since that ruling.
A Recap of the Court's Rulings
On June 26th of this year, the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a 5-4 decision. The law had denied same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits, which are available to heterosexual couples.
In addition, the Supreme Court ruled that the traditional marriage activists who put Proposition 8 on California ballots in 2008 did not have the constitutional authority or legal standing to defend the law in federal courts.
What's Happened Since the Rulings
Soon after the rulings, the Obama administration made health, vision and dental benefits available to all same-sex spouses and children of legally married federal employees. However, it was reported on July 8 that the Obama administration would not extend federal-worker benefits to domestic partners who were not married.
What this means is that same-sex couples living anywhere in the U.S. will qualify for federal-employee benefits as long as their marriage licenses were obtained from any one of the 13 states that recognize same-sex marriage and the District of Columbia.
It is still unknown how the Obama administration will handle same-sex couples with respect to Social Security and veterans' benefits. Those agencies have yet to issue any guidance on their policies.
Battles Move from the U.S. Supreme Court to Local Courts
With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in their favor, advocates of same-sex marriage are rallying to pursue efforts to legalize same-sex unions in more states.
Lawyers representing same-sex couples have filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia. In addition, there are 11 pending court cases from New Jersey to Hawaii. Gay-rights groups propose that if federal benefits can't be denied to legally married same-sex couples, then more states ultimately won't be able to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry.
The effort to legalize same-sex marriage in every state will be arduous. Thirty-six states have banned same-sex marriage, either through legislative or constitutional provisions.
However, support for same-sex couples has grown as has their numbers:
- There were 646,000 same-sex-couple households in the United States in 2010, according to the Census Bureau.
- Same-sex couple households have grown in the U.S. by 80.4% between 200 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- There are 115,064 same-sex couple households in the United States with children.
- Fifty-three percent of Americans believe that same-sex marriages should be legal
Do you have questions about custody, guardianships, children's issues, 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.