There is so much to discuss and to consider. Many couples, particularly those in same-sex relationships, have been pondering the day that same-sex marriage was treated like, well, marriage. That day has arrived. While various people and various religious and other groups may refuse to recognize same-sex marriage, governments in our country, both local and federal, must now consider such marriages (if properly handled, just like opposite sex marriages) as valid marriages.
The interesting thing to me, as a divorce lawyer, is that those already involved in a committed, same-sex relationship — perhaps with children, real property (like a house) and maybe a business — now have a mechanism to civilly and somewhat predictably, separate if needed. In other words, without same-sex marriage, dissolving such relationships and shared property and children could often be and has often been, chaotic. No rules, snatch and grab, biological parent gets all the rights and the other parent doesn't even get visitation. Those were real concerns for many same-sex couples, until this decision.
The point is that it will now be much easier to bring resolution and peaceful closure at the end of a same-sex relationship. And we should dispel the notion that divorce lawyers will now make lots of money. To the contrary, until same-sex marriages were permitted, separating a same-sex couple, dividing their assets, resolving their child custody and support issues, partitioning real property like their house, all required separate lawsuits. Now it can all be done at once pursuant to the same laws and rules that have been fully developed for opposite sex couples (the laws and rules of divorce). Property can be transferred in a divorce as a nontaxable event. It will be less costly and easier to do. That makes divorce lawyers less money, but it is a good thing. Same-sex marriage does not mean that same-sex couples will now form serious relationships. Obviously they already do. Same-sex marriage now simply recognizes those relationships and permits those couples to have the benefits (and some may argue disadvantages) of being married.
The debate about whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry may continue for a period but really, in my opinion, it is done. It will eventually sink into the general public psyche. For instance, after the Loving v. Va case, people eventually stopped calling it "interracial marriage." Now it's just "marriage." The same thing will happen with this. And the world will go on.
- Randy Kessler