History: Same Sex Marriage Law of the Land


The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today legalizing same-sex marriage is a victory for civil rights, but it may not change the way all Americans view gay and lesbian couples, legal experts said.

“The shift in public opinion has been incredible, but there’s still work to be done,” Sam Erman, law professor at the USC Gould School of Law and a constitutional law expert, told City News Service. “The question of equal rights is going to be fought in smaller battles.

“For many people, their opposition to same-sex marriage is grounded in religious beliefs. And my suspicion is that those kinds of debates may be very deeply felt. I don’t think this one ruling will entirely free you from the way others view you.”

Erman said he was struck by how quickly the tide turned among the general public from resistance to acceptance of same-sex marriage.

“It wasn’t that long ago when it wasn’t legal to engage in consensual sexual acts — and now the institution of marriage has opened up,” said Erman, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of today’s ruling.

Los Angeles family law attorney Steve Mindel said the ruling “legitimizes the relationship — much like interracial marriage in the ‘50s.”

“The U.S. is going to become united now on this one issue,” Mindel said. “The ruling stops states from going back and forth and changing their minds about it.”

With the decision, an estimated 70,000 same-sex couples living in the 13 states that most recently did not allow it are expected to marry in the next three years.

The ruling will impact tax, real estate and other laws where the federal government requires people to be married to obtain certain benefits, Mindel said, adding that the courts will have to create new systems to handle such issues.

There are roughly 1 million same-sex couples — married and unmarried — living together in the United States, according to the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, which found that the number of married same-sex couples has tripled since 2013.

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