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U.S. Supreme Court Once Again Visits Same-Sex Marriage Rights

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was (in part) declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court almost two years ago, allowing same-sex couples who are married in their own states to receive the same federal protections that other couples receive. So why does it appear that the Supreme Court is once again taking up the issue of same-sex marriage?

Striking Down Section Three of DOMA

Specifically, in 2013, the Supreme Court decision struck down section three of DOMA, which declared that marriage could only be a legal union between man and woman, and prevented the federal government from recognizing LGBT marriages, even if LGBT couples were legally married (and legally recognized as married) in their own state. What this did was open the door for federal protections associated with marriage (employer, social security, tax benefits, inheritance, etc.) to now be available to LGBT couples.

Specifically, LGBT couples were now entitled to many of the same benefits associated with the federal government recognizing marriage, including but not limited to:

  • Joint income tax filing;
  • Exemption from federal estate taxes;
  • Benefits for military spouses;
  • Social Security benefits;
  • Health insurance for federal employees’ spouses;
  • Pension protection for federal employees’ spouses; and
  • Others.

Current Supreme Court Case on Same Sex Marriage

When the Supreme Court declared section three of DOMA to be unconstitutional, it did not strike down all areas of the DOMA; specifically, the Court left states with the ability to deny recognition of same-sex couples by staying silent on that question. Thus, it avoided the question of whether same-sex marriage is protection by the Constitution.

In April of this year, the latest case arguing for same-sex marriage rights was brought before the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges. In the case, the Court will decide whether the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing equal protection of the laws specifically prohibits states from banning same-sex marriage. If same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, then it must be legalized, and the decision cannot be left to the voters in each state. At the same time, the Court will also address whether states must recognizes same-sex marriages, as legalized in other states (in the instance of relocation after marriage).

Florida Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage

2015 marks a progressive change of tide for Florida, as the state began to legally recognize same-sex marriage, and a Federal judge denounced the ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. This was specifically decided in the context of a couple who had moved from Canada to Florida, and was seeking legal recognition of their marriage in Florida. The Supreme Court’s decision could, similarly, affect any same-sex couples who are legally married in Florida and must move out of state, similar to the case that marked progress for Florida last year.

Florida Family Law/LGBT Rights Attorney

Because family law is in a state of change regarding LGBT issues, it is important to seek the counsel of a seasoned family law attorney. Sandra Bonfiglio, P. A. is proud to serve LGBT communities and is available to help you with any aspect of your family planning and adoption issues in Florida. Contact the office online or at 954-828-9933.

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