Seventeen states now allow same-sex marriage; however, 33 states continue to ban it.
California's Path to Same-Sex Marriages
In California, the right to marry someone of the same sex took a circuitous route, involving political battles, appeals, and finally a reversal of the decision to ban gay marriage. Here's what happened. A proposition was passed allowing same-sex marriage in the state. Then Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage, was put to the voters and was passed.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that California's anti-gay marriage initiative, known as Proposition 8, was unconstitutional. Unhappy with that result, supporters of Proposition 8 appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. In June of last year, in a 5 - 4 decision, the court ruled that the defenders of Proposition 8 lacked standing and, therefore, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its ban, blocking same-sex marriages.
Same-sex marriages are now legal in California.
Same-Sex Marriage Battle Continues in Utah
Utah has been experiencing similar issues.
On December 20, 2013, a federal judge ruled that a same-sex marriage was legal in the state of Utah. The judge's argument was that the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, violating the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment.
The 14th Amendment states "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
The federal judge's decision didn't sit well with some parties. Naturally, the decision was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, in January the nation's highest court put a stay on a decision pending the state's appeal.
The Utah governor's office had directed state agencies to ignore the hundreds of gay marriages that had been performed following the Dec. 20th decision. In other words, even though some same-sex couples married during the two and a half weeks when it was legal to do so, they were suddenly no longer recognized as married couples and pending adoptions were curtailed.
During those two and a half weeks, an estimated 1,300 same-sex marriages had been performed.
The Utah governor's office maintains that the state's original stance, prohibiting same-sex marriage, is in effect now. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has instructed both sides in the case to submit legal arguments by the end of this month.
Do you have questions about custody, guardianships, children's issues, spousal support or same-sex unions? If so, call me or schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of James V. Sansone at 707-623-1875 or contact me by email. You can find additional information on family law, children's issues, spousal support,domestic violence as well as a list of resources you'll find helpful on our website.