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Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer Opinion Recap: Same-Sex Marriage in California

Posted By Edwin Castellanos || 27-Jun-2013

Same-Sex Marriage in California - A Historic Day From the Nations High Court

If you were following us on social media yesterday, then you know we were awaiting two highly anticipated decisions out of the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether the Supreme Court Justices intended (or not) to be a part of history, they certainly played an important role in providing equality for all lawfully married couples.

Here’s a brief rundown of the decisions in the two same-sex marriage cases:

Yesterday there were two marriage decisions released from the Supreme Court on the final day of the Court’s Term. United States v. Windsor, was a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, in which the Court ruled section 3 of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional. The Windsor decision permits same-sex couples living in states that recognize same-sex marriage eligible for the same federal benefits available to other married couples under federal law.

However, there remains unanswered questions with respect to the application of Windsor. Windsor did not directly answer to the issue of “portability” concerning federal marital benefits. That is, Windsor is limited to “lawful marriages” in states recognizing same-sex marriage. What happens to these federal benefits when a same-sex couple “transfers” to a state that does not recognize their marriage? Issues are almost certain to arise and further guidance may be needed from the varied federal benefit programs when dealing with states that have competing understandings of the definition of marriage.

The second marriage case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, a 5-4 opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, in which the Court ruled proponents of Proposition 8 (a California voter initiative banning same-sex marriage) lacked legal standing to appeal a Federal District Court ruling, which declared “Prop 8″ unconstitutional and enjoined California officials from enforcing it.

As a result of Perry, proponents of “Prop 8″, also called “interveners” (a legal term describing “Prop 8″ supporters who entered the lawsuit to defend “Prop 8″ when state officials declined to support the initiative) in the legal case, could not demonstrate to the Court “a personal and tangible harm” sufficient to demonstrate a case or controversy under Article III of the U.S. Constitution . The Court ruled the 9th Circuit decision is vacated and remanded. The Perry decision was resolved on procedural grounds, and did not specifically rule on the issue of gay marriage in California. However, the practical effect of the decision is clear, Perry opens the door for the State of California to resume handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Need more help with issues concerning gay marriage in California? Do you need legal help from a Los Angeles Family Law Attorney? If so, please contact Castellanos & Associates, APLC at (323) 655-2105, or learn more about family law on our website. For additional family law news, please be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.