How the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Gay Marriage Affects Californians

Same-sex marriage became legal in California after the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling against proponents of Proposition 8 in 2013. The California legislature also amended to remove its gendered language and to explicitly define marriage as a “personal relation arising out of civil contract between two persons.” (Fam C §300) Nevertheless, the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015 ruling that extended the right to marry to same-sex couples will have an effect on Californians.

The Right to Travel

Before the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling, one question that is existed was whether a same-sex marriage in one-state would be honored in another state. As of January 1, 2015, same-sex marriages validly contracted within another state were recognized under California law as valid marriages. (Fam C §308). However, some states continued to maintain bans on same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling struck state-law bans on same-sex marriage in all 50 states. This means that same-sex couples are free to travel throughout the country with the piece of mind that their fundamental right to be married is protected.


With the right to marry comes the right to divorce. Before the Supreme Court’s ruling, couples who married in California, but lived in states that did not recognize the couple’s status, found themselves unable to obtain any rights or remedies in the wake of a marital breakup because of the hostility of the local courts. As a result, same-sex couples began moving to California to establish residency (which can typically take 6 months) just to be allowed to legally dissolve their relationships. Same-sex couples can now legally divorce in any state, regardless of where they live at the time of the divorce.

Employment Benefits

Employers offering domestic partner benefits to unmarried couples may pull back on offering those benefits since employees in all states can now marry. However, the legality of same-sex marriage across the country will likely ease the administrative burden on human resources departments by providing consistency across all states. Before the Supreme Court’s ruling, same-sex spousal benefits varied from state to state.

Taxes and Other Benefits

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling striking the Defense of Marriage Act, the IRS adopted a “place of celebration” of marriage standard in lieu of a “place of residence” standard for federal treatment of a same-sex marriage, with exceptions, notably for Social Security benefits and veterans’ benefits.

While the right to marry for same-sex marriage is settled, the effects of the law on same-sex couples are still evolving. Boyd Law’s attorneys have extensive skill, knowledge, and experience with same-sex marriage issues. Give us a call today for a free consultation.