Many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community celebrating a victory, not only for them, but for the Court’s interpretation of the constitutional rights of all Americans.
In the majority decision of the Court, all states must perform and recognize same-sex marriages, even if the marriage was performed outside of the home state of residence. Citing the protections offered by the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, the Court has given same-sex marriages the equal constitutional protection that heterosexual marriages are granted.
Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the Court’s opinion stating that the fundamental ideals of marriage are the same for both same-sex marriages and those between a man and a woman. Marriages based on love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family apply to both types of marriages and should be available to two consenting adults who respect that union. He added that same-sex couples want the same type of committed and respected marriage that heterosexuals enjoy where two people come together and become greater than before. To deny them of that right is unconstitutional in the eyes of the law.
The Supreme Court decision not only brings the issue of marital equality to the forefront, but also opens the door to new precedents being set across the board. In his opinion, Justice Kennedy mentioned that the courts need to uphold the constitution as it relates to societal changes, such as it did in reversing laws on arranged marriages and bi-racial marriages, making the institution of marriage stronger, not weaker.
Recognition by the Court that same-sex partners have equal rights can also set new boundaries for other legal decisions such as employment discrimination based on gender or sexual identity. Moreover, the recent ruling also opens the door to dissolution of same-sex marriages via same-sex divorce. There are additional complications that can arise until such time as case law is created and/or the legislature addresses how dissolution shall occur, if it is different from “other” marriage dissolution.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dennis Melofchik
Dennis J. Melofchik was admitted to practice law in the State of New Jersey in 1972 and has been engaged in the practice of law for the past 43 years. He has extensive experience in all areas of practice as outlined on this website and more.
Mr. Melofchik has served as the Chairman of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, District 9 Ethics Committee. He has also been a member of the Monmouth County Bar Association and American Bar Association as well as the New Jersey Bar Association over the years and, in that context, he has served as Trustee of the Monmouth County Bar Association and Monmouth County Bar Foundation as well as serving as a long-time arbitrator and mediator in the courts of New Jersey. He has also served as a lecturer for the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education.