In June 2022, the United States Supreme Court ruling, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, terminated decades of constitutional protection of access to abortion. Many people have since expressed fear that this ruling will impact the rights of LGBTQ people. The concern arises, in part, from Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in which he stated that Obergefell v. Hodges should be overruled. The Obergefell v. Hodges decision is a 2015 Supreme Court ruling which extended marriage equality nationwide for same-sex couples.
For numerous reasons, overruling Obergefell would wreak legal havoc on married same-sex couples. That said, there are many good reasons to believe a future Supreme Court would not apply Dobbs to same-sex relationships, including that the Court’s decision explicitly says so: the ruling states “unequivocally” it is not intended to apply to same-sex relationships. Moreover, in a 2017 decision joined by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court reaffirmed the Obergefell holding that states must extend equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples. In addition, the vast majority of the public supports marriage equality: a 2022 Gallup Poll found that 71% of the country supports equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Finally, in December 2022, Congress passed the Respect for Marriage Act. The law provides federal recognition of same-sex marriages and requires states to grant full faith and credit to same-sex marriages performed out of state. Thus, in the unlikely event that Justice Thomas had his way, Texas and other states would be forced to grant full legal recognition to same-sex marriages performed out of state.
Marriage equality remains and will most likely continue to be the law of the land. Yet, even with marriage, estate planning and adoption remain vitally important to protect you and your family. If you have questions about estate planning or adoption, please feel free contact us.