On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in Obergefell v. Hodges ruled that all 50 states and the District of Columbia must issue marriage licenses and recognize marriages regardless of whether the spouses are both male or female. In effect, this ruling guarantees equal protection under the law to same-sex couples concerning not only marriage, but the property rights and other legal presumptions arising from marriage.
As the majority of the Court’s justices have stated:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” – Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Please click on the name of the case above if you wish to read the entire opinion.)
Because Texas is one of the few states that recognize informal marriage – aka common law marriage – the impact of SCOTUS’ ruling stretches farther than in other states. The universal recognition of same-sex marriage in Texas, however, will likely be a rocky road, despite SCOTUS’ historic and unequivocal opinion. Texans in family relationships should take particular care to review their specific circumstances with an attorney.
LPV is ready to assist all couples in understanding their legal rights and obligations concerning marriage, divorce, adoption, child support, child custody, parental rights, property rights, and other issues arising under the Texas Family Code. Our attorneys and staff look forward to serving the needs of all Texas residents, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
By: Cindy W. Veidt, 6/29/2015