In a landmark decision, on Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. The case, Obergefell v. Hodges, relies on the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and holds that the 50 states (i) cannot refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and (ii) must recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state.
The Supreme Court Justices split the decision 5-4, with all four conservative Justices filing individual dissents. Perhaps unsurprisingly, opinions on the majority decision were sharply divided. For example, while President Obama congratulated the lead plaintiff in the case on his leadership in changing the country, dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia argued that the Court’s decision represented a “Putsch” and a “threat to American democracy.” In the end, in light of the battles leading up to the historic ruling, most pundits appear to believe that Obergefell v. Hodges will be the final word on the legality of same-sex marriages in the United States.
What Obergefell v. Hodges Means for You
So, what are some of the practical implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling?
- Right to Marry – The 14 states that had bans on same-sex marriage (including Ohio) must now lift those bans. As a result, same-sex couples are now allowed to legally marry in all 50 states. While the Court gave the states with bans three weeks to ask for reconsideration, news outlets have reported that many of them began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday.
- Marriage and Divorce – Same-sex spouses will have the same marital rights as opposite-sex couples. Same-sex couples will also have equal rights to file for divorce and will have the same options regarding custody, support, property division, and other divorce-related matters.
- Employment Benefits – For purposes of employment benefits, employers must treat same-sex and opposite-sex couples equally. There may be a limited exception for employers who self-insure, though they are likely to face blowback if they continue to deny benefits to same-sex couples following the Court’s ruling.
- Religion – Religious organizations are exempt from the Court’s ruling, so churches opposed to gay marriage are not required to hold same-sex ceremonies. However, employers can no longer discriminate against same-sex couples based on religious objections.
- Taxes – Same-sex and opposite-sex married couples will receive equal tax treatment under both state and federal law.
Same-Sex Marriage in Ohio
Now that the Supreme Court has ordered Ohio to lift its ban on same-sex marriages, gay and lesbian couples can apply for marriage licenses in their local county courts. Here in Cleveland, the Cuyahoga County Probate Court issued its first same-sex marriage licenses just hours after the Supreme Court announced its decision. While you must appear in person in order to obtain your marriage license, you can now start the application process online.
Couples getting married should also consider their options with respect to prenuptial agreements and other marriage planning tools. Contact Laubacher & Co. to learn more.
Speak with an Ohio Family Law Attorney Today
Located in Cleveland, Laubacher & Co. provides experienced and compassionate family law services to same-sex and opposite-sex couples throughout Ohio. To speak with one of our attorneys, call (440) 336-8687 or contact us online today.