The upcoming Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Prop 8 will not be the last word on marriage, in particular, or gay rights, in general. As we look forward to those words, however, let's take a look ahead and discuss how the legal landscape may be more complicated after the end of June. "Gay Rights After SCOTUS" is Towleroad's series on LGBT legal issues after Perry and Windsor. In today's column, state-to-state marriage recognition.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) makes things really easy: it mandates that no matter what this or that state says about marriage, gay marriages are never going to be recognized by the federal government. So-called "federal marriage law" -- to the extent that there is such a thing -- will be a lot more complicated when the Supreme Court tosses DOMA into the dust bin of history.
Complication is not always a bad thing. It just takes a little more work.
Normally, marriage law is pretty simple: For 99 percent of heterosexual couples, the hardest thing about marrying in one state and moving to another state is packing the fine china. Sure, there are some states (New York) that allow first cousins to marry and some states (West Virginia) that do not, but for the most part, when a man marries a woman, they are married in all legal respects whether they live on the 65th floor in an Upper West Side hi-rise or in a ranch house in Oklahoma.
The end of DOMA doubles down the complexity faced by legally married same-sex couples. What is the governing law for marriages for federal law: the place of celebration or the place of domicile? What if the choice of law is different from different aspects of federal law? What happens when a legally married couple moves to a state that feels that their marriage violates public policy? What of gay couples that do not have the option of marrying and are in registered domestic partnerships or civil unions that provide all the benefits of marriage?
It's time to start imagining a world where we have to answer these questions. Join me AFTER THE JUMP as we look forward to a brave new world.
CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...