The issue of legality of same-sex marriage in America was settled recently with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
The lead plaintiff, from Ohio, challenged a state ban on homosexual marriage on constitutional grounds. Indiana voters had previously passed a similar ban, but the law was overturned last year when a federal judge declared it unconstitutional. Still, the question remained open-ended in many other states – until now.
What it means for same-sex couples who choose to marry is that the union they form in Indiana will be recognized nationally wherever they go. It also means those couples will have the right to divorce anywhere too.
This had become a complex issue for many same-sex couples. After all, just because a state government sanctions a union doesn’t necessarily make it any more inherently stable than it otherwise might have been. Couples who married in a state that recognized their union and then moved to a state with a gay marriage ban found themselves in limbo. The state didn’t recognize their union as legitimate, so they couldn’t proceed with a formal divorce.
Because every state has some type of residency requirement before couples can file for divorce, it meant many couples had to upend their lives just to obtain a divorce. Otherwise, they were stuck in a quasi-married state.
Now, those types of questions should be largely resolved. “Gay marriage” will be considered just “marriage” and “gay divorce” simply “divorce.”
Although these relationships were formally recognized as legitimate in Indiana last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling still has an impact for gay and lesbian couples in this state.
For one thing, they will not have to worry about whether their relationships and their families are going to be recognized in another state if they have to move. It means they are free to marry anywhere and move anywhere.
Secondly, they also are relieved of worrying about whether their relationship could face additional legal challenges at the whim of voters or politicians.
The case in Indiana that opened the doors was Baskin v. Bogan. The lead plaintiffs in the case were a couple who married in Massachusetts 13 years earlier, but had moved to Indiana with their two small children. One of the women was fighting Stage IV ovarian cancer, and had thus far had more than 100 tumors removed surgically. The couple sought to secure an accurate death certificate reflecting her married status, as well as to ensure the surviving spouse could manage their joint assets and care for their children.
The case was rushed before the court under emergency circumstances, given the dying woman’s limited time. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled the ban was unconstitutional, and the woman’s marriage should be recognized in Indiana. That paved the way for both marriages and divorces by same-sex couples in the Hoosier state.
Now, those unions will have no bounds.
Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.
Same-sex marriage ruling may inflame rift at Indiana statehouse, June 27, 2015, By Brian Eason, Indy Star
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