On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its opinion in U.S. v. Windsor effectively ending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). For the first time in United States history, federal law now recognizes marriages between same-sex couples.
I’ve decided to write a blog series exploring the legal ramifications of the Windsor decision on the legal lives of gay couples so that they have a chance to plan their state-to-state moves. I’m calling it The Windsor List in honor of Edie Windsor.
So this is where we are. A gay couple can now legally marry in several states in the U.S. and that marriage will be recognized by the federal government. But there’s a catch. Every state decides for itself who can marry (or not). There is no mandate on individual states to make same-sex marriage a legal option for all American citizens. And no state can be forced to recognize marriages that are valid in other states. This situation creates legal complexities for any same-sex couple whose marriage is recognized by one state but not another.
As an example, the federal government will recognize your same sex marriage if you live in a state (like Washington State), where your marriage is valid under state law. But, getting married in Washington does not automatically mean that other states will recognize your marriage. If you and your spouse are thinking about relocating out of Washington State (let’s say), it’s a very good idea to talk to an estate planning attorney to make sure your estate planning documents (such as your living will and will) are in order.
There is good news. Great breakthroughs have come for same-sex couples at the federal level in states that recognize same-sex marriage.
Today I’m looking at the good news, and the issues, around issues for members of our military, including veterans.
Military and Veteran’s Benefits
Same-sex married couples now have access to military and veteran’s benefits previously unavailable to them. Some examples include the following:
- On-base housing
- Shopping privileges
- Transport and home leave
- Military healthcare
- Burial rights
For more information about these legal issues, please feel free to contact DuBois Cary partner Monica Cary (206) 547-1486.