Supreme Court will decide the marriage rights of gays and lesbians, and determine whether same-sex marriage should be permitted across all US states.
After ducking the issue in October, the U.S. Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would decide the marriage rights of gays and lesbians nationwide. The court’s agreement to determine whether same-sex marriage should be allowed in every U.S. state will likely be carried out before the end of its term in June.
Following the Supreme Court’s tacit approval of same-sex marriage in five states by refusing to hear appeals in support of gay marriage bans in October, the number of states that allow same-sex marriage has increased to 36. Currently, 70% of American residents live in states that allow gay marriage. Although many people expect the Supreme Court to permit such marriages nationwide, the only guaranteed outcome is that the court will issue a significant decision on the issue in the near future.
Understanding the Supreme Court’s recent announcement requires looking at the current legal complications of same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize the validity of their marriage.
“Driving the Supreme Court’s review is the disparity between states in how they recognize or fail to recognize same-sex marriages among couples who wed in a state where such marriages are legal but reside in one where it is not”, says family lawyer Bari Zell Weinberger of Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group in New Jersey.
Although these marriages are currently permitted in a majority of the U.S., the discrepancy between gay marriage laws in different states has caused distress in a number of same-sex divorce cases. Weinberger recalls a “particularly vivid example” of such complications in a recent Florida divorce case. “A same-sex couple attempted to divorce, but was denied due to Florida’s ban,” says Weinberger. “The pair was essentially ‘wed-locked’ until this past December when a deal was finally brokered to grant a divorce in the matter.”
Establishing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right in America would clarify a number of problems that currently plague the U.S. justice system.
“While marriage and divorce laws are governed by each individual state, uniformity in the laws between states can certainly help to lessen confusion,” explains Weinberger. “How the Supreme Court rules on this issue will set an important precedent that may well have implications beyond the issue at hand.”
Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides in its impending ruling, the outcome will be impactful on the legal system as well as the LGBT community across the U.S.