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Gay Marriage and the Problem of Property

13 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2016 Last revised: 20 Oct 2016

Andrea Beauchamp Carroll

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Paul M. Hebert Law Center

Christopher K. Odinet

Southern University Law Center

Date Written: November 1, 2015


The Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision in Obergefell has been hailed in almost all corners as a milestone in American jurisprudence. From topics as varied as adoption and taxes, a myriad of rights have now descended upon gay couples as a result of the Court’s ruling. In this Essay we explore the little discussed downsides of the decision when it comes to the property rights and debts of the spouses. This is particularly important when considering the rights of third parties and their settled expectations in the context of retroactivity, as well the ways in which the Court’s decision may have the undesirable affect of undoing the carefully laid plans of the spouses. We conclude that courts and legislatures have by no means seen the end of the gay marriage debate. Rather, a host of unforeseen collateral issues lie on the horizon.

Keywords: gay marriage, property, debt, family law, real estate, planning, wills, spouses, community property, credit, consumer, commercial, equality, constitutional rights, same-sex marriage

Suggested Citation

Carroll, Andrea Beauchamp and Odinet, Christopher K., Gay Marriage and the Problem of Property (November 1, 2015). Washington University Law Review, Vol. 93, No. 847, 2016. Available at SSRN:

Andrea Carroll

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Paul M. Hebert Law Center ( email )

440 Law Center Building
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
United States

Christopher Odinet (Contact Author)

Southern University Law Center ( email )

P.O. Box 9294
Baton Rouge, LA 70813
United States
225-771-4900 (Phone)


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