In June, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, a highly publicized case upholding the rights of same-sex couples to marry. This decision has widespread implications in various areas, many of which were not anticipated by the mainstream media.
Most of the plaintiffs were same-sex couples who challenged practices of several states, including the refusals to issue marriage licenses or recognize valid marriages performed in other states. Although the challengers won in each of the federal trial courts, the intermediate appellate court ruled against them. This created a split in the law of the federal circuits, and the United States Supreme Court accepted the case for review.
The United States Supreme Court held that the right to marry was fundamental and ought to be applied to same-sex couples in the same way
that it has been applied to couples of the opposite sex. As a result, the state laws that refused marriage licenses to same-sex couples were invalidated, as were those that refused to recognize valid same-sex marriages licensed in other states. In making its holding, the Court overruled a prior decision from the early 1970s.
While the media coverage of the Obergefell same-sex marriage case was extensive, the effects of the decision will be even more so. Here are some examples of areas that will likely be affected:
- Adoption rights
- Antidiscrimination law
- Family and Medical Leave Act rights
- Health care benefits
- Vital statistics, such as birth and death certificates
- Wills and trusts
Now that the Obergefell decision has been issued, many court cases will be brought to help clarify its impact. The Obergefell decision will have a significant impact on the American Legal landscape and how this case affects inheritance rights in the realm of estate planning will be better understood within the next couple years. In the meantime, when your family needs legal advice, contact me, your neighborhood Personal Family Lawyer. I build trusting relationships with my clients and as the law evolves so will my office. I’m there for you and your family to answer your questions and make the law work for you.