The Supreme Court issued a landmark decision today in Obergefell v. Hodges ruling that same-sex couples across the nation have an equal right to marry and that the refusal to issue marriage licenses or to recognize the validity of same-sex marriage licenses from other states violates the Constitution. The five-to-four decision clearly spells out a Constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry and have their marriages recognized meaning the ruling could be overturned only in the unlikely event of constitutional amendment or a change of mind by a future Supreme Court. This ruling follows on the heels of the recent Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor where the Supreme Court held that the Federal government could not discriminate against same-sex couples by failing to recognize the validity of their marriage for the purpose of federal benefits including immigration benefits. After the Windsor ruling many of our client’s traveled across the country in order to obtain valid marriage licenses so they could pursue immigration benefits. The practical import of today’s decision is that same-sex couples should no longer have to travel across the country to find a suitable jurisdiction to have their marriage and will now be able to get married in their home states close to friends and family. Perhaps more importantly, they will no longer need to worry whether their state government will recognize and provide state benefits on the basis of their same-sex marriage.
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