On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its,progressive if not divisive, opinion in the case Obergefell v. Hodges regarding the constitutionality of same-sex marriages in the United States.  Justice Kennedy, the perennial swing vote, wrote the 5-4 opinion legalizing marriage equality for all.

The Obergefell decision declares that same-sex couples are entitled to the same treatment under the law also commonly referred to as equal protection. This decision means that the minority of states that currently prohibit gay marriage cannot do so going forward without being in violation of the law. In fact, those states have to quickly realize that they have to recognize and honor same-sex marriages.


How Does this Impact You?


According to the Human Rights Commission, there over a whopping 1,138 benefits and protections granted to married couples! Wow. I had no idea it was that many. Therefore, same-sex couples have a who host of things they can now access.

For those in states that allow same-sex marriage or work for the federal government, you may already have had access to most of these benefit after the  2013 Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor which  struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) allowing same-sex married couples across the country have been recognized for federal purposes for the first time. Here are some of the more well-known benefits.

First, same-sex married couples now have the same rights as heterosexual couples in that their marriage will be recognized regardless of state.  Obviously, this is a big deal. As we all know, marriage is a favored institution in our society allowing access to certain benefits for spouses that single individuals do not have. Therefore, the concern of moving to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage is somewhat diminished, but it is too early to see how states that object to same-sex marriage will react. For example, Louisiana has indicated that it will continue to follow its laws until a mandate is issued by the Sixth Circuit Court as reported by the New York Times. Chief Justice Moore of Alabama allegedly asked officials in his state to ignore lower court rulings holding the ban of same-sex marriage unconstitutional earlier this year according to Washington Post.

How about taxes and the IRS? Now, same-sex couples everywhere can file  as  “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” For some couples however this could actually increase your tax bill! Yes, due to sloppy tax laws it may be beneficial to remain single for tax purposes if both folks have significant incomes.  Talk to your tax person to figure it out.

Another big benefit is employee benefits. Again the marital units receives things like the  Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and ability to be on your spouse’s insurance as well as share the Health Savings Account. In addition, to the intangible benefits access to these benefits could save some couples a serious amount of money.   Individual health insurance plans can be pricey at best even with Obamacare incentives. Therefore, access to family plans under the employer could reduce insurance costs and increase the type of coverage available.

As for society huge safety net, Social Security Benefits, has nice write up that same sex couples can review to learn more

On the immigration front, same-sex couples with international connections will now be able to potential bring over family members. Citizens and Green Card holders can petition for fiances and spouses to come to the US nationwide and not just the states that have legalized same-sex marriage anymore.