Ask Lambda Legal - Marriage Equality

Since the Supreme Court’s recent historic decision to grant same-sex couples throughout the United States the freedom to marry and the right to recognition of their marriages in Obergefell v. Hodges, many questions have surfaced about just how the ruling will affect same-sex couples and families.
To try to answer many of these questions, legal teams at Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Freedom to Marry, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), Human Rights Campaign (HRC),  the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) teamed up to develop a joint FAQ.
The topics included are: getting married and wedding planning, parent-child relationships, Social Security spousal benefits, veterans’ spousal benefits, retirement benefits, income taxes, employment discrimination, and marriage equality and transgender people.

Below are excerpts of our answers to some of the questions most frequently asked. The full FAQ is at marriageequalityfacts.org.
Can a clerk or probate judge who is issuing licenses to different-sex couples refuse to issue us a marriage license?

No. Government officials who are charged with issuing marriage licenses cannot deny you a license solely because you and your partner are the same sex. If you have been denied a marriage license or have encountered hostility or delays, contact one of our organizations (marriageequalityfacts.org/contact/).
Can my employer fire me if I marry my same-sex partner?

No. Even though no federal statutes explicitly prohibit sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that firing someone because they married a person of the same sex constitutes impermissible sex discrimination under federal law.

In addition, employees who work for the federal government or federal contractors are protected by executive orders that explicitly protect against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Many states and cities also explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

What does this mean for transgender people’s right to marry and for our families?

Because of the Supreme Court‘s ruling, states may no longer restrict marriage based on gender. This means that whatever your gender, and regardless of whether state officials recognized your gender, this should not affect your ability to marry.

Although this ruling is a major victory that will benefit many families, transgender people and their families continue to face many challenges – including barriers to recognition of parent-child relationships and other types of family relationships. Lambda Legal continues to advocate for full equality for transgender people and their families.

Please note: This guidance is intended to provide general information. 

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

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