Colorado Probate Blog - Wade Ash Woods Hill & Farley, P.C.

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Equal Dignity: U.S. Supreme Court Validates Same-Sex Marriage

The United States Supreme Court entered its opinion this morning validating same-sex marriage at the federal level. Importantly, the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges recognizes that “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. ... [the challengers] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

The basis of the decision is that marriage is a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution, and the 14th Amendment requires equal protection of those rights to all individuals, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Therefore, extending the right of marriage only to heterosexual, or opposite-sex couples would be a violation of the equal protection our Constitution guarantees.

Effects of this ruling include the application of spousal benefits at the state and federal level to all married couples regardless of sexual orientation or gender. States that currently do not allow marriages between same sex couples can no longer deny that right. Federal laws and benefits previously denied to same sex couples, such as income taxation laws, social security, now apply.

In states such as Colorado, that already recognize same sex marriages, state rights under employment, taxation and other state benefits will be enhanced by application of similar laws and benefits available at the federal level.

While the Court typically issues a final order 25 days after the opinion, the decision is operable immediately. The ruling was a 5-4 decision with 4 different dissents. The opinion can be read in its entirety at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf

For more detail on the Court’s analysis and consideration of the practical effects of the ruling, please check out our July Newsletter. If you are not on our newsletter mailing list, please click here to subscribe.

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