A Review of the Year in Family Law 2014–2015: Family Law Continues to Evolve as Marriage Equality Is Attained
Posted: 27 Jul 2017 Last revised: 28 Jul 2017
Date Written: 2016
On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court settled the question of marriage equality in a five-to-four decision written by Justice Kennedy, which declared that marriage is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person. Therefore, state bans on same-sex marriage are invalid under both equal protection and due process analysis. The majority found that liberty extends to “certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.” Same-sex married couples will now become presumed parents under most state laws that recognized children born to a marriage as “legitimate.” However, questions remain for nonbiological, nonadoptive same-sex partners who do not marry. In addition, there will be some questions as to the statutory exemptions for religious institutions, the limits of free-speech-clause defenses, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and religious accommodation requirements under employment law, but the right to marry and to have the marriage recognized by all states is now clear.
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