United States Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage Nationwide
After years of legal battles and individual state legislation legalizing (and making illegal) same-sex marriage, the United States Supreme Court has clarified the issue on a national level, making it legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry in any state. In the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court stated that it was a fundamental right of all same-sex couples to marry.
The path leading to this decision was a winding one. While the Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that sex between same-sex partners could be criminalized in the case Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court has generally come down in favor of gay rights in recent years. In 2003, the case titled Lawrence v. Texas overturned the Court’s decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, making it illegal to criminalize sex between same-sex consenting adults. In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court stated that the federal government could not refuse to recognize as valid a same-sex marriage that was legal under state law.
According to polling data, public sentiment about gay marriage has become increasingly positive over the past several years. Gallup polling reports that, as of May 2015, 60% of Americans believed that gay and lesbian marriages should be viewed as valid, compared to as recently as May of 2009, when only 40% of Americans thought such marriages should be viewed as valid. At the time of the Supreme Court’s decision, a number of states still had some form of law stating that marriage was defined as being between a man and a woman, though many states had legalized same-sex marriage in recent years. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, and New Jersey legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.
Negative responses from conservative groups have come in various forms since the ruling. Certain county clerks have either refused to issue marriage licenses entirely or specifically to gay and lesbian couples. One East Texas county clerk resigned his position in order to avoid issuing licenses to same-sex couples. One congressman based in Iowa, Representative Steve King, introduced a resolution after the Supreme Court’s decision that would state that the House of Representatives asserts that marriage is between a man and a woman, that the Supreme Court’s decision was not Constitutional, and that the Court’s decision “perverts the definition of marriage.”
Now that same-sex couples can trust that their marriage will be legal nationwide, you may be considering marriage for yourself and your partner. Many legal considerations enter into a decision to marry, and you and your partner may wish to speak to an attorney before doing so, or to create a prenuptial agreement before getting married. Contact the skilled Englewood, New Jersey family law attorneys at Herbert & Weiss for a free consultation on your same-sex marriage legal questions, at 201-440-6300.