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Marriage: Love Wins The Day

Tonight's post on marriage was written by our Gainesville divorce and family law attorney, Jennifer Thuy-Tien McCall.

The Manely Firm, P.C. has always fervently supported equal rights and represented parties in same-sex relationships. People in same-sex relationships have been without the protection and rights of a legally-recognized marriage. What a beautiful day in history. Friday, June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, legalizing same-sex marriage across the country.

In the opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court writes, "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a martial union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect is so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

Legalizing gay marriages has a significant impact in family law. Now people in same-sex relationships will be able to benefit from all the legal rights and protections of a legally married couple, including without limitation, tax benefits, property rights, and rights of inheritance.

Not only does it benefit the parties who are now able to marry, it also benefits children and parents by creating legal relationships between them. Until now, one parent in a gay relationship had no legal rights to the child. That parent could not make medical decisions for the child, enroll them in school, obtain a passport, or fight for custody if the parents' relationship broke down. The child also could be deprived of benefits such as a parent's Social Security benefits, retirement, or inheritance.

So often we make these legal issues into grand national debates, lofty scholarly disputes, or even intense Thanksgiving dinner discussions. In reality, the legality of same sex marriage plays itself out in real life every time a gay couple has to replace the word "wife" or "husband" with "partner." Even more crucially, same sex couples often suffer most profoundly in the most dramatic life situations: at the hour of death or sickness, they often do not have legal rights to see their partner in the hospital. It is difficult for many of us to imagine having a lifelong partner we have loved for decades whom we cannot visit in the hospital because there is no legal familial tie.

Today there is a legal family tie. It is the tie that binds.

Today, love wins. 

Jennifer Thuy-Tien McCall

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