7 Must-Know Facts About Same-Sex Marriage and the Supreme Court Ruling

3. The definition of “marriage” under federal laws and regulations no longer can exclude same-sex couples who are lawfully married under state law.

The Supreme Court’s decision invalidating DOMA noted some 1,100 federal laws and regulations that refer to married persons in a wide array of contexts including income tax deductions, Social Security benefits, the status and rights of children, domestic support obligations in bankruptcy, and the marital deduction under federal estate law.

Churches need to carefully evaluate the application of federal laws and regulations to church employees who are lawfully married under state law to a person of the same sex.

4. Same-sex marriages are recognized as legally valid in 13 states and the District of Columbia, either by statute or court ruling.

The states recognizing same-sex marriages (either currently or in the near future) are CA, CT, DE, IA, ME, MA, MD, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT and WA.

5. Neither of the Supreme Court’s rulings questioned or limited the right of clergy to refuse to solemnize marriages that would violate their religious beliefs:

Including marriages of same-sex couples.

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Richard Hammar
Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA, and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and attended Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of several books, including Pastor, Church & Law, the annual Church and Clergy Tax Guide, Reducing the Risk, the biannual Compensation Handbook for Church Staff and the Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churches.