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Same-Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage To Do List: Check Health Insurance Options

When you’re planning a wedding, the to do lists just keep growing. You need a location. You need a caterer. A florist. An officiant. A health insurance assistor. A photographer. You need to pick out invitations, trim down the invitation list, pick the best health coverage option, choose a menu.

Wait, what was that about health insurance and health coverage? Read more »

Love Wins: Supreme Court Recognizes Marriage Equality

Today, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision [PDF],holding that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry” and guaranteeing that the right to marry the person you love no longer depends on where you live. In doing so, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitutions protections “extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.” Read more »

Argument Recap: Do Same-Sex Marriage Bans Discriminate on the Basis of Sex?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in four consolidated cases, which present the question of whether the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize those marriages performed in other states where they are legal. The National Women’s Law Center, along with women’s legal organizations and legal scholars, submitted a brief [PDF] arguing that state same-sex marriage bans must be subject to heightened scrutiny under the Constitution, just as are other laws that discriminate on the basis of sex. And from the arguments, it seems like at least some of the Justices read it.

During the argument, Ruth Bader Ginsburg touched on the significance of gender stereotyping in the context of the now-abandoned “meaning” of marriage.  As Justices Roberts and Kennedy pondered whether the court had a right to challenge a definition of marriage that had existed for “millennia”, [PDF] Justice Ginsburg quickly pointed out that marriage today is very different than it was under the common law, reminding them: “Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female… Would that be a choice that states should still be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?” Read more »

Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument in Marriage Equality Cases

Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges and three consolidated cases. The outcome will determine whether states can refuse to allow same-sex couples to marry or refuse to recognize their marriages. Stereotypes about women and men and the roles they should play in marriage have no place in law. The Supreme Court has long recognized that the Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of discrimination; now, it must recognize that the Constitution prohibits sexual orientation discrimination on this basis. Read more »

The Department of Labor’s New Rule: Changing the Definition of Spouse under the FMLA to Finally Include All Spouses

Until this month, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has entitled almost all eligible spouses to take job-protected, unpaid leave to care for family members, including a sick spouse or stepchild.  But it has not covered spouses who are married to same-sex partners. That means that even though you might be legally married to your spouse, you could still be denied the rights that opposite-sex spouses have to job-protected FMLA leave to care for your sick spouse – simply because of who you are, who you love, and who you married.

But now, thanks to the Department of Labor, same-sex spouses will have the same leave rights under the FMLA as spouses in heterosexual marriages. This month, the Department of Labor issued a new rule that becomes final today, defining “spouse” under the FMLA as being determined by where the celebration of marriage occurred, rather than the employee’s current state of residence.  In other words, under the “place of celebration” rule, an employee in a same-sex marriage will be deemed a spouse under the FMLA if her marriage took place in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, even if she currently lives and works in a state that does not. Read more »

NWLC Files Amicus Brief in Support of Marriage Equality

On Thursday, the National Women’s Law Center, along with several women’s organizations and legal scholars, filed an amicus brief in Obergefell v. Hodges and consolidated cases. The brief argues that laws discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, such as the marriage bans at issue in these cases, must be subject to heightened scrutiny under the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee, like laws that discriminate on the basis of sex or race. Such laws rely on outdated, stereotyped gender roles and the Constitution provides strong protection against government efforts to perpetuate them.  Read more »

Sixth Circuit to Same-Sex Couples: Just Wait and See

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit handed down its decision in DeBoer v. Snyder, [PDF] becoming the first federal appellate court to state uphold bans on marriage between same-sex couples post-Windsor. Instead of addressing the constitutional issues, the majority focused largely on who should decide the issue, insisting that the democratic process, not the federal judiciary, was the appropriate forum through which same-sex couples should obtain their civil rights. In other words, those “laboratories of experimentation” that adopted the bans to begin with should be charged with removing them. This decision begs the question, what is the role of the courts, if not to “say what the law is”—especially when the legal questions involve individual constitutional rights of such grave importance? Nevertheless, according to the Sixth Circuit, the courts should “wait and see” what the fallout is in the states where same-sex marriage is now legal and respect the will of the voters. Sound familiar? That same argument was made, unsuccessfully, by Virginia in Loving v. Virginia, the case that overturned Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. It was an outrageous proposition then and it is today: don’t we look to courts to be counter-majoritarian? To prevent majorities from oppressing minorities? Read more »

Decision Not to Take Up Cases Allows Marriage Equality to Stand in States Across the Country

This morning, the Court denied review in all seven of the cases it had been asked to take up involving state bans on marriage between same-sex couples. This means that the lower-court decisions striking down marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin are final and will go into effect immediately. These decisions also are good news for same-sex couples seeking to marry in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming, as district courts in these states are bound by the Fourth,Seventh and Tenth Circuit court decisions that were presented for Supreme Court review. As a result, same-sex couples will be able to get married in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Read more »

Seventh Circuit Joins Appellate Courts to Affirm Marriage Equality

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down Indiana and Wisconsin laws that exclude same-sex couples from marriage [PDF]. The three judge panel joined the two other federal appeals courts—in the Fourth and Tenth Circuits—that, since the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, have found marriage inequality unconstitutional.  

In a forceful decision for the unanimous panel written just nine days after the cases were argued, Judge Richard Posner concluded that the states’ marriage bans violate the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee. Judge Posner wrote that cases present a straightforward question: whether the states “are discriminating against homosexuals by denying them a right that these states grant heterosexuals, namely the right to marry an unmarried adult of their choice.” The court’s analysis, he wrote, “goes to the heart of equal protection doctrine” and “capture the essence of the Supreme Court’s approach in heightened scrutiny cases,” the approach courts use to evaluate whether laws that discriminate based on sex violate equal protection. Read more »

Marriage Equality Affirmed in the Fourth Circuit

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit handed down its decision in Bostic v. Rainey, becoming the second federal appeals court to strike down bans on marriage between same-sex couples post-Windsor. Read more »