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Gay Marriage Overcomes Another Obstacle

Posted on in Family Law

RigersOn June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively abolished the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") that president Bill Clinton signed into law in 1996. Although President Clinton stated that DOMA would have a limited impact, it became a major headache for gay couples who were denied benefits available to heterosexual couples. It was only a matter of time until someone would challenge this type of blatant government-sponsored sexual discrimination.

The case in front of the Supreme Court involved two women who lived together for nearly four decades. After getting married in Canada, they moved to New York, were they lived happily married until one spouse passed away. The issue became whether federal inheritance tax exemption would exempt the inheritance left to the surviving spouse as it would in a so-called traditional marriage. The Obama administration agreed that the gay couple should be treated in the same way as a heterosexual couple would in the same situation. Although the Obama administration agreed to refund the tax, it still asked the Supreme Court for a definite ruling on the matter. In a crucial fifth vote, Justice Kennedy sided with the Court's liberal group to hold that the DOMA-mandated discrimination was unconstitutional.

The Court avoided the more encompassing issue of whether gay couples have the same legal right to get married heterosexual couples.  That issue will largely remain up to the states, and Illinois is in the process joining the ranks of the states that recognize gay marriage.

Marriage law reform has gained momentum in the last decade, and will continue to occupy a central role in the field family law. If you have a questions regarding Illinois gay marriage law, consider consulting an experienced Illinois family law attorney.

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