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Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court

| Jul 1, 2013 | Uncategorized |


Gay couples have long had second-tier status when it came to their finances… Now that the Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, some of these issues will be wiped away. The ruling makes clear that married gay couples living in states that recognize their unions will immediately gain access to more than 1,000 federal benefits, like Social Security and family leave rights. Less certain is how couples living in the remaining 37 states will fare.

It’s been something of a fairly eventful Supreme Court season this year. With many important decisions covering many important topics, few issues have been so radically altered as that of same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court, in its last actions of this term, rendered two important decisions on the topic of same-sex marriage. Now it’s time to figure out what these rulings mean moving forward. A recent article in The New York Times, titled “How the Court’s Ruling Will Affect Same-Sex Spouses,” provides a good start.

For those planning for their estates, the important decision was rendered in US v. Windsor, a case many have been following quite intently and for good reason. The case centered on a common conundrum of many in same-sex marriages: married by state law, but strangers by federal law. And of course, the Federal law in issue was The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, as signed into law by President Clinton. DOMA changed the definition of marriage to literally require different gender partners, but this has been struck down.

Consequently, all of the federal benefits ascribed to the term “marriage” will extend to same-sex marriages as well. These include, but are not limited to, social security, estate and gift tax law, and common law spousal provisions. In short, it’s a groundswell and the ground won’t stop moving until we figure out all of the ramifications.

Read the original article for more specifics, but many questions remain. For example, will estate planning be just the same for same-sex marriage now?