SAN DIEGO – July 22, 2014 –The U.S. Supreme Court ruled interracial marriage was legal in 1967. It still took until November 2000 for Alabama to become the final state to formally remove the interracial marriage ban, 33 years after the Supreme Court declared these laws unconstitutional.
Today this scenario is playing out all over again over the right of same-sex couples to marry. Will it take several more decades for society to extend equal rights under the law to every segment of society?
Thankfully, as Pride Month is celebrated in July in the United States, it seems not. State courts are pushing toward a resolution sooner than later at the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court. We need to push harder, for many reasons that have nothing to do with anyone’s personal beliefs.
One year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, questions still remain as to whether the federal government can legally continue to deny recognition to marriages that are recognized in the states that allow same-sex marriage.
Our country has a crazy quilt of laws from state to state, wrecking havoc on families, keeping lawyers awake at night trying to figure out how to navigate common family law issues regarding marriage, divorce, child custody, support, medical decision-making, estate planning and taxation.
As of publication. 19 states and the District of Columbia currently issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. According to the organization Freedom to Marry,
- Nearly 44% of the U.S. population lives in a state with the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
- Over 46% of the U.S. population lives in a state with either marriage or a broad legal status such as civil union or domestic partnership.
- Over 48% of the U.S. population lives in a state that provides some form of protections for gay couples.
Thirty-one states have “defense of marriage” laws in place. In those states, even if you got married legally somewhere else in the U.S. or in one of the foreign countries that recognizes same-sex marriage like Canada, Spain, or South Africa, that state will not recognize your marriage. This could mean being frozen out of benefits provided to heterosexual couples, no tax benefits, no protection from discrimination and other legal rights.
However, in 12 of these states, same-sex marriage bans have been overturned by the courts, and appeals are in progress. Three came this month along. The latest were in Kentucky on July 1, Colorado on July 9, and in Florida on July 17, by a Monroe County Circuit judge. He ruled Monday that same-sex marriages may proceed in Moroe County (which covers the Florida Keys area).
As this seemingly changes by the day, the webite ProCon.org provides the most current information.
No matter your position, from a legal process point-of-view, this will continue to create chaos and clog up our courts at a great cost of time and money.
Those who would argue that civil unions can guarantee all the same rights afforded by marriage to same-sex couples are incorrect. If nothing else, having to go to an attorney to put into place the many protections the law gives to married couples is time-consuming and expensive.
Government treats with marriage as a civil issue. The government does not interfere with the spiritual santification or blessing of marriage. This should never change, and it doesn’t need to. It’s time to get practical, whatever your personal beliefs.
We need to separate both legally and morally the religious or spiritual definition of matrimony, and the legal definition of a marriage under this country’s civil laws. We need to make it uniform, applicable to all in all 50 states. Courts won’t be clogged and families will be healthier and happier because fairness will exist. Lawyers will lose some income. They’ll live.
Then we could move on to things that are really difficult like curing disease, fixing our economy, eradicating poverty and illiteracy, preventing bullying, you get the idea. This is my idea of taking pride in America.
Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Follow Myra on Twitter: @LawyerMyra. Fleischer can be reached via Google +
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