How Do New Rulings in Marriage Definition Affect Same-Sex Couples?
On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held that Section 3 the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevented the federal government from recognizing state-granted same-sex marriages, was unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment by treating same-sex couples differently than heterosexual couples. Earlier this week, a U.S. District Judge found the Nebraska ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction in the case brought by seven same-sex couples in the state. A U.S. appeals court on Thursday put on hold a federal judge's ruling that would have allowed same-sex couples in Nebraska to marry, instead staying the judge's ruling and scheduled oral arguments in the case for May 12 together with three other same-sex marriage cases pending before the 8th Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in April on the matter which may make the decision for the states, causing the May 12thdiscussion to not be necessary if a ruling is made then.
All facets of same-sex marriages are being reviewed at the state level; including what this means for surviving spouses, tax breaks allowed to same-sex spouses, and employer obligations under the new definitions. What does this mean for same-sex couples in our area of the country? Basically, it means that these laws will be discussed in the near future and also how the laws pertain to our state and the states surrounding Nebraska. As with any law decided at the national level, there are nuances at the state level that may circumvent how they are applied for same-sex couples here.
The best solution is to talk to your lawyer about what this means for your estate and financial planning for the near future. Since these rulings and the discussions of them are now taking place, changes happen often that could affect how you stand and which laws will pertain to your situation. Don't be caught under old definitions that affect your plan!
Information from "Estate Tax Issues of Same-Sex Marriages" by Kay Bell and U.S. Department of Labor rulings