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Supreme Court Decision Provides Federal Benefits to Same-Sex Couples

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court made separate rulings that affect the movement toward legalized marriage for same-sex couples in this country.

The recognition of gender-neutral marriage has become a topic of national discussion in recent years. Significant decisions made by the Supreme Court during the recent session include the following:

  • California Proposition 8: By declining to hear the appeal of a lower court decision concerning the legality of same-sex marriage in California, the high court left in place the trial court finding that allows gender-neutral marriage in California. The state of California had declined to defend Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state.
  • United States v. Windsor: Ruling that section three of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional and deprives citizens of their freedom under the Fifth Amendment, the court extended federal benefits to same-sex couples in states where their marriage is allowed.

Including California, there are currently 13 states that allow and recognize same-sex marriage. Texas is not one of those states. Despite the setting aside of Section 3 of DOMA, the court ruling did not address Section 2, which holds that states that do not recognize same-sex marriage need not recognize marriages performed in states that do.

While a challenge to Section 2 of DOMA will arise soon, possibly from a Texas court, these rulings do not provide relief for same-sex couples in Texas who seek to divorce here after marriage in another state. Since Texas does not recognize the marriage, there is no divorce remedy.

If you have questions about the implications of DOMA or are thinking about divorce, it is strongly suggested that you obtain reputable legal advice.

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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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