Same-Sex Marriage and Equality Under The Law

By Nick Ustaski

A few weeks ago the first major Supreme Court landmark decision in the United States since the 1964 passing of the Civil Rights act occurred in the United States when the court decided with a 5-4 vote to grant the right of same-sex couples to marry. The case Obergefell v. Hodges ruled that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex married couples and denial of recognition of the marriages violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. June 26th 2015 will forever be a historic day in United States history and law. Before the Supreme Court decision, 37 states and the District of Colombia had legalized gay marriage, now every American has been granted the right no longer varying state by state. Throughout the United States, cities, people, and groups all celebrated the passage of an act that truly altered human nature and equality in the United States. Parades and celebrations in cities like San Francisco, Washington D.C., and our very own Chicago made national headlines and showed how much support and happiness the act’s passage has caused. The Supreme Court justices, who voted on the decision, each had various opinions on the issue, but in the end it received a majority vote. The same sex marriage debate has grown in popularity in the recent years. President Barack Obama called the decision a victory for America. With this good news for those who consider themselves a same-sex couple, there is of course opposition. Many of the religious churches see same-sex marriage as a violation of their churches’ beliefs, while other Americans are strongly opposed to the idea. From a legal standpoint, this decision not only affects a same-sex couples’ right to marry, but truly alters the legal field for cases like this. With the legalization of gay marriage, those who identify under it are now legally protected and open to the same benefits as a male-female married couple. 

Same-sex couples receiving these benefits need to be treated exactly as a couple who is male and female. The legal field will now have to accept these individuals’ newly granted federally protected rights and alter how the situations are approached. These new benefits can range from employment, tax differentials, and many more. For example, employers will now have to review all of their benefit plans to ensure compliance with the new applicable federal law. How this issue proceeds in the future could drastically change many fields of law and employment. After years of case law starting in the 1970’s, the U.S. Supreme Court, like it has done in the past, were the ones who ultimately made the decision on how the issue affects the United States. With the ruling, American social society will be altered and the future of this issue and conflicts that arise from it are a topic that will forever be connected with the law.