On June 28, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay preventing California from marrying same-sex couples. See our updated FAQ for Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in CA.
Nearly five years after California voters, through Prop. 8, stripped same-sex couples of their freedom to marry, the U.S. Supreme Court has restored that very same freedom on Wednesday, June 26. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Court ruled that opponents of marriage for same-sex couples lacked standing to appeal a decision that struck down Prop. 8. Meanwhile, in the ACLU’s case Windsor v. United States the Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for married same-sex couples in California to receive all federal benefits, rights, and responsibilities.
What exactly do these decisions mean for same-sex couples who are either thinking about getting married in California or are already married and living in California?
The American Civil Liberties Union of California – along with Equality California, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights – has produced a handy guide that answers many of the practical questions emerging in the wake of the Court’s rulings. Our guide, Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in California: Frequently Asked Questions, covers topics including the logistics of marrying in California, protection against discrimination, and whether your marriage will be recognized by the federal government and outside of California.
Here is a brief glimpse at some of the questions the guide answers:
• When can same-sex couples start getting married again in California? • Will same-sex couples throughout the state be able to marry? • What do we have to do to marry in California? • Will domestic partnerships in California continue to exist? • If my partner and I are from another state and marry in California, will our marriage be valid in our home state? • If my partner and I married in another state, will California recognize our marriage? • Will the federal government recognize marriages of same-sex couples in California? • For same-sex couples in bi-national relationships, will getting married in California permit a non-U.S. citizen to gain legal permanent residence in the U.S.? • Can a private business – such as a florist, photographer, or event space – refuse to provide space or a service for me wedding because I am marrying a person of the same sex? • Can my employer deny my same-sex spouse the same employment benefits that different-sex spouses receive?
One note: This guide focuses on the questions facing same-sex couples contemplating marriage in California. There are several guides (and more coming!) that explain in more detail the federal changes that will occur in the wake of today’s Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor. For more information, check After DOMA What It Means to You: ACLU Factsheets.
The ACLU/SC will be updating the guide as information emerges, so please check back for updates. Download the updated guide in PDF
Melissa Goodman is Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Southern California