One thing that the Supreme Court’s two rulings on Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 basically assured is that the Court is not done with this issue. By striking down the federal government’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages preferred in states where it is legal but deciding not to address whether individual states can prohibit same-sex marriage, the Court created almost as many questions as answers yesterday. Questions that can only be answered by new cases before the Court.
Federal benefits will be extended to legally married same-sex couples, but what unions actually qualify? If a couple gets married in one state but moves to a state that prohibits same-sex marriage, are they still entitled to all federal benefits, none, or just some? Is it the state law that you are married in, or the state law where you are living that matters?
In addition, the Court struck down key parts of DOMA for equal protection reasons. Does this mean the Court will use the same logic to find it unconstitutional for one state to refuse to honor a marriage in another? Would the Court find any state prohibition against same-sex marriage unconstitutional?
With so many issues to still be sorted out, it is likely several cases dealing with these questions will quickly make their way through the court system. In the very near future, the Supreme Court will almost certainly be forced to take up one or more cases to address the even broader issue of whether it is constitutional for any level of government to discriminate against same-sex marriages.
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