On June 26, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that declared state bans against same-sex marriage a violation of the U.S. Constitution. In a 5-4 decision, the court said that states did not have the right to deny gay couples the same marriage rights that heterosexuals have enjoyed. The practice has been legal in Pennsylvania since 2014.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the past should not rule the present and that injustice can be hard to see in our own time. In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts said that he believed the court had overstepped its bounds by changing the definition of marriage. However, the court’s ruling puts to rest the quest for marriage equality that has been brewing for decades.
The issue in front of the court was whether the Fourteenth Amendment required states to recognize such licenses issued in other states. Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that states had the right to define marriage for themselves, it had also ruled in 2013, in an opinion also authored by Justice Kennedy, that federal benefits had to be extended to same-sex couples. That was seen by many observers as a precursor to Friday’s ruling.
Due to the legal patchwork regarding same-sex marriage, the question of same-sex couples and divorces was not a simple one to answer. However, now that all couples have the right to marry, the divorce process is also largely the same for all couples. This means that anyone in a same-sex marriage who would like to get a divorce may be entitled to property division rights as well as child custody rights, and a family law attorney who has experience in this area can provide further guidance.