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How same-sex marriage become legal

Same-sex marriage has been legal for approximately two years, ever since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. The decision gave the right of marriage to same-sex couples throughout the United States; however, before 2015, numerous individual states had already legalized same-sex marriage locally.

Same-sex marriage is legally defined as the marriage of two people who have the same gender. Ever since Obergefell decision, same-sex couples have received the same benefits and rights that opposite-sex spouses have. This includes the power to make decisions in emergency medical situations, tax benefits, protection from domestic relation laws, workers' compensation benefits, spousal testimonial privilege, inheritance rights and other marital benefits.

The first step toward legalizing gay marriage on the federal level came in 2013 with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. This allowed same-sex married couples in states where gay marriage was legal to receive the same federal protections and benefits that opposite-sex spouses enjoyed. However, in 2013, the court did not reverse state-level bans on gay marriage.

Two years later, in 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. In this case, the Court ruled that state-level same-sex marriage bans -- as well as the refusal to honor same-sex marriages from other states -- represented unconstitutional civil rights infringements. The decision extended same-sex marriage to be legalized all across the country.

Do you have questions about your same-sex marriage in Minnesota? Even though same-sex marriage is legal, unique legal questions may still apply to a same-sex couple, particularly if the spouses decide to have children together. A family law attorney can answer any questions you have about how your same-sex marital union could affect you, your spouse and your family.

Source: FindLaw, "Same Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships," accessed June 17, 2017

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