In a landmark ruling on June 26, 2015, the U.S Supreme Court struck down all bans on same-sex marriage, making same-sex marriages legal in every state in the union. The case before the court, Obergefell v. Hodges, was a culmination of 6 other cases in the last several years that brought the same-sex issue to various U.S. District Courts across the country. The ruling on June 26th is also the legal endpoint of years of debate over the issue, including the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, that federally prohibited states from recognizing same-sex marriage, and Proposition 8 in 2008 that banned same-sex marriage in California.
Despite the fact that same-sex marriage is entirely legal, there continues to be clerks, officials and judges in counties across the U.S. that are refusing to follow the law. There have been reported issues in Kentucky, Alabama, Texas, Oregon and North Carolina, with Kim Davis, a clerk from Kentucky refusing to issue same-sex licenses, being one of the more high-profile cases. We turned to a top lawyer on JustAnswer, Lucy, to explain how the same-sex marriage law affects same-sex couples across the country.
“Same-sex couples are legally allowed to marry in every U.S. state. Most U.S. states do not have any residency requirements before a couple can marry, so the couple would just have to check to see if there's any waiting period between when they can get a license and when it can be used. There are some clerks and judges who are refusing to follow the law - they can be sued, and they will lose their cases. For example, Kim Davis; she's fighting in Kentucky, but she's lost every battle and will continue to lose until she's removed from office.
In general, though, a same-sex couple should be able to walk into any clerk's office in the country and get a marriage license as long as both are legally old enough to marry and not currently married to anyone else. And if a couple is thinking about moving, then they'd want to look into the state's overall history regarding gay rights, because there are, unfortunately, states where discrimination in housing is permitted, and there's some dispute regarding whether federal law prohibits people from being fired based on sexual orientation. I would argue that it does prohibit it, but some states might say otherwise.”
According to a Pew Research poll in July 2015, 55% of Americans support same-sex marriage, which is technically considered a majority. And while stories such as Kim Davis’ make headlines, same-sex marriage is the law of the land and will need to be followed by every state in the U.S.