You may have noticed that a number of State Laws prohibiting Same-Sex Marriage have been overturned, mostly by Federal Courts, however, a few have been through State Courts. At last count, currently 18 states and the District of Columbia recognize Same-Sex Marriage. But, other variations have further muddied the waters.
For instance, a Federal Judge in Kentucky ruled that the state must recognize legal Same-Sex Marriages performed in other states; however, he did not address Kentucky’s own Laws prohibiting it. So, where does a Gay or Lesbian Couple in Kentucky, who were legally-married elsewhere, go if they wish to Divorce? Can Kentucky Laws provide for the Dissolution of something which is Prohibited?
Once the U. S. Department of Justice declared that it would recognize all Same-Sex Marriages, regardless of whether the couple lives in a state that permits it or not, the whole issue, at least to me, became somewhat of a moot point. The rights to: File Joint Tax Returns; the Spousal Advantages of the Probate Laws; more flexible Joint Ownership of Property and Company-Sponsored Employee Benefits; among others, are quite important considerations.
Many legal pundits have suggested that the U. S. Supreme Court doesn’t need to consider codifying Same-Sex Marriage on a Nationwide basis, due to the unanimity of the various Lower Court Rulings. The “Equal Rights” Provision, under the 14th Amendment, has generally been a key argument in this issue. But, I do believe that SCOTUS does need to unify the Laws of the Nation, lest we continue the confusion provided by the Kentucky Ruling or the situation whereby some individual County Clerks began issuing Marriage License to Same-Sex Couples in New Mexico, which were not valid in other counties.
There are, at least, two other considerations which I wish to address. The feeling of Self-Respect and Commitment, between the Couple, are things that come from within, and which I believe that a Nationwide Law would provide for. The respect and acceptance of a Same-Sex Couple within a particular Community, however, can be somewhat elusive–depending on the locale and the individual neighbors. Total respect and acceptance will come over time, because the Demographics and Values of America are changing. Let’s hope that such change comes quickly.