Last Friday (June 26th, 2015), the Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage in the United States, ruling 5-4 in Obergefell vs. Hodges that same-sex marriage would henceforth be legal in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.
This news was greeted with jubilation in the American gay and lesbian community. Pride Festivals and Parades that weekend took on added vibrancy. Monuments across the nation — Niagara Falls, the White House, Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyland — were illuminated with the colors of the rainbow flag in commemoration of this decision.
And yet, the aphorism “Be careful what you wish for … because you just might get it.” applies here.
On a local level, several states (Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas, among others) have begun investigating whether they can delay issuance of same-sex marriage licenses or simply stop issuing marriage licenses altogether. Personally, I don’t think government should be in the business of issuing marriage licenses at all — same-sex or opposite-sex. Marriage licenses should come from the minister performing the marriage ceremony.
On the current national level, same-sex marriage does not confer Federal tax benefits or Social Security benefits, and Obergefell won’t change that. Congress will have to re-write IRS and Social Security law to change references to “husband” and “wife” to “partner” or “spouse” in order to cover same-sex couples.
On an ominous national level, the Department of Justice has signaled its interest in “ensuring compliance” with states that may lag in issuing same-sex marriage licenses (viz: AL, MS, TX, above.) This would be the first step towards having the government take over the issuance of Federal marriage licenses — how best to “ensure compliance?” Once marriage licenses are Federally issued, prepare for an unrivaled level of intrusiveness into one’s personal life.
“Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”