Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Indiana appeals ruling on parental rights for same-sex couples

From The Indianapolis Star:

The state of Indiana is appealing a federal judge's ruling allowing female same-sex spouses to both be listed on their children's birth certificates.

In June, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled state laws unconstitutional for requiring a same-sex spouse to adopt a child in order to gain parental rights. The state only recognized a birth mother, and not her wife, on a child’s birth certificate.

Pratt ordered Indiana to extend the same parental rights to married same-sex couples as it does for married opposite-sex couples, including listing both mothers on a birth certificate.

While the state's appeal of that ruling is pending, same-sex couples will have their parental rights recognized.

Read more here.

February 11, 2017 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Virginia House Passes 'Solemnization of Marriage' Bill

From the Washington Post:

The House of Delegates on Thursday approved a bill aimed at protecting religious organizations that decline to perform same-sex marriages.

The measure passed on a largely party-line vote of 57 to 37, with four Republicans joining all Democrats in voting against it. Some supporters, including the bill’s sponsor, expressed concern about taking a position that has been widely criticized as endangering the rights of LGBT people.

Describing the bill as “something that has weighed a great deal on me,” the sponsor, Del. Nicholas Freitas (R-Culpeper), said he would prefer to “get the government out of the definition of marriage.”

Read more here.

February 7, 2017 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Texas Attempts to Revoke Some Gay-Marriage Rights

From Bloomberg:

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider a case about whether married gay city employees must be given spousal benefits. That’s a terrible sign. The briefs openly urge the court to resist the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark gay marriage decision by reading it narrowly to say that gay people have a fundamental right to marry but no right to equal benefits. It’s a legally deceptive argument, which the current justices in Washington would summarily reject. But it’s dangerous all the same, because it shows that Donald Trump’s election is spurring outright resistance to federal law and precedent. And the Texas justices, who are elected, have no excuse for agreeing to reconsider the case.

The case, Pidgeon v. Turner, arose from a lawsuit trying to block the benefits that the city of Houston affords to the same-sex spouses of city employees. The case had no legal chance of success once the U.S. Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. That decision held both that marriage is a fundamental right and that the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution requires that it be extended equally to gay and straight couples.

The Texas lower courts rejected the attack on the Houston benefits and, in September, the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear the case by a vote of 8-1. Only one justice, John Devine, dissented. The essence of his position was: Marriage is a fundamental right. Spousal benefits are not. Thus, the two issues are distinct.

Read more here.

 

January 29, 2017 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Federal judge blocks Mississippi law protecting gay-marriage bias based on religious beliefs

From the ABA Journal:

A federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law that protects those who discriminate based on a religious belief against gay marriage, premarital sex and transgender recognition.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves of Jackson, Mississippi, issued a preliminary injunction on Thursday that blocks the law, known as HB 1523, report the New York Times, the Washington Post and theClarion-Ledger.

Reeves said the law violates the establishment clause because it has “put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others.” The law also violates the equal protection clause, he said, because it authorizes arbitrary discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender and unmarried persons.

Read more here.

July 9, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

SCOVA Watch: Three Takeaways From the Court’s Recent Ruling on Same-Sex Cohabitation

3 Takeaways on Virginia's Luttrell v. Cucco

From JD Supra Business Advisor:

Last December, I previewed the case of Luttrell v. Cucco, which had, at that time, just been taken up by the Supreme Court of Virginia. The Court recently issued its ruling in the case and you can read the opinion here.

There are a few notable lessons from the Court’s ruling that are useful reminders for other cases.

1.) The Court does not like sweeping rulings. In some of the press coverage following the Court’s opinion, several outlets initially characterized the ruling broadly as one that took the logical next step following Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. Even the ACLU, trumpeting their victory, framed the ruling in those terms. The Court’s holding, however, is a narrow one based on the plain language of the statute at issue, Code § 20-109(A), and the opinion never discusses, or even mentions, Obergefell.

Code § 20-109(A) allows a spouse paying support to petition a court to terminate such support if “the spouse receiving support has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to marriage.” In two sentences at the heart of the opinion, the Court states that Code § 20-109(A), is “gender neutral” and can thus “apply to either same-sex or opposite-sex relationships.” The Court then bolstered this finding by distinguishing prior decisions and examining the legislative history of the enactment. In case there was any doubt, the Court then expressly stated that the definition of marriage in Virginia was irrelevant to its ruling because the controlling words in Code § 20-109(A) were “a relationship analogous to marriage.”

Read more here.

May 28, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Ornamental Political Wife

From the National Post:

Gender norms remain a constant for political spouses despite the difference in their daily lives from the average citizen. Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is being criticized because his wife needs the assistance of staffers to help manage the daily needs of their young children. Canadian citizens do not want to pay for additional staffers. Furthermore, some of the Canadian public see Sophie Gregoire Trudeau's role as that of a stay-at-home mother and feel that she should be able to handle her children by herself.

Read more here.

May 18, 2016 in International, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Same-Sex Civil Unions Approved in Italy

From the Economist:

On May 11, 2016, the Italian Parliament approved a law recognizing same-sex civil unions in Italy. The law passed with 372 voting in favor, 51 voting against, and 99 abstaining. The new law grants same-sex couples many of the same rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples; such as, inheritance of their partners pensions and full property inheritance rights. 

The issue was brought to the forefront of Italian legislation when, last year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Italy violated the rights of respect for private and family life by not recognizing same-sex unions. Indeed, the change in the law also reflects changing attitudes about homosexuality in society, particularly Roman Catholic society. Polls show that most Italians still oppose same-sex marriage but are open to civil unions.

While this is a happy moment for homosexuals in Italy, the law still falls short of giving homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. This includes the right to adopt the children of their partners.

 

 

Read more here.

May 15, 2016 in Adoption, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Marriage in England and Wales Becoming Less Popular

From Daily Mail:

Fewer people are getting married and the number of religious weddings have dropped significantly, the latest official figures revealed this morning.

The number of people tying the knot fell for the first time in four years, with civil ceremonies making up more than seven in ten marriages.

But the figures for marriages in England and Wales show that pensioners are bucking the trend, with a steady increase in the marriage rate among those aged over 65.

This trend is driven in particular by female pensioners, with the marriage rate among women aged over 65 rising by a third over the last decade.

The latest published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) covers marriages that took place in 2013.

Statisticians said the fall in the number of marriages could be due to couples choosing to postpone their marriage to avoid the number 13 – perceived as unlucky by many different cultures.

The average age at marriage increased slightly for men and women. The average age was 36.7 years for men – up from 36.5 in 2012 and for women it was 34.3 years – up from 34 in 2012.  

ONS statistician Elizabeth McLaren said: 'The fall could indicate the continuation of the long-term decline in marriages since 1972 or could be due to couples choosing to postpone their marriage to avoid the number 13 which is perceived as unlucky by many cultures.' 

She added: 'When you have the freedom to choose there are probably certain dates you might avoid, like Friday 13th and that sort of thing.

'It is going to be interesting to see whether this is part of a long-term decline or if it will change again.' 

The number of religious ceremonies fell by 14 per cent compared to 2012 - continuing the downward trend since 1990, while civil ceremonies fell by 6 per cent compared with 2012. 

Read more here.

May 6, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Minnesota's 5-Day Wait For Marriage License Could End

From MPRNews:

Minnesota's five-day wait for a marriage license, a law which dates back to the Great Depression, could soon be a thing of the past.

The state is only one of two that make couples wait so long between applying for a license and receiving one. The only way to avoid the wait in Minnesota is to get a judge to sign a waiver.

Hennepin County auditor and treasurer Mark Chapin said the law first appeared in Minnesota in 1931, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

"During the Great Depression, there was a lot of concern about whether people could support each other and support their children," Chapin said. The wait may have given the engaged enough pause to confirm that support.

Supporters of the change contend the five-day wait is inconvenient for couples, counties and the judiciary. They point out that it doesn't take counties five days to prepare the license, and that the waiting period means couples either return to the licensing office five days later to pick up their marriage license or have it mailed to them, which requires extra staff time.

"We believe the waiting period is burdensome," Chapin told state senators in late March.

Most couples asking for a waiver in Hennepin County did not know about the wait or did not want to wait, Chapin said. The judges always sign off on the waiver.

Read more here.

April 30, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Is Marriage Outdated in Iceland?

From CNN:

"What would a society look like without marriage?"

The question popped into my brain after I stumbled across a list of countries with the most unwed mothers. With 40% of its babies born out of wedlock, America sits near the middle of the global pack in this category. Conservative Turkey brings up the rear with a scant 3%.
 
And the nation at the top of the list? The world leader in single moms? Iceland.
 
More than two-thirds of Icelandic babies -- 67% -- are born to parents who are not married. This might be a shameful distinction in many spots around the world. In the land of the Vikings, it is a point of pride.
 
The island may have been settled by marauding brutes, but it is now the most feminist society on the planet, and with that one tantalizing fact, Sunday's episode of "The Wonder List" was born.
 
With about 320,000 citizens, Iceland has fewer people than Tulsa, Oklahoma, and more glaciers, geysers and clean, fresh water than countries 10 times its size.
 
The Viking sagas and otherworldly landscapes have inspired movies and shows like "Lord of the Rings" and "Game of Thrones," and after generations of impoverished isolation, Iceland is experiencing a tourist boom unlike anything the country has ever seen. But few American visitors would suspect that these handsome people with their tongue-twisting language have blown up everything they know about love and marriage.
 
"You have this horrible term in English, 'broken families,' " Bryndis Asmundottir says over coffee. "Which basically means just if you get divorced, then something's broken. But that's not the way it is in Iceland at all. We live in such a small and secure environment, and the women have so much freedom. So you can just, you can choose your life."
 
Read more here.

April 1, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Could Abolishing Marriage Licenses in Alabama 'Legalize Bigotry?'

From AL.com:

A bill to do away with marriage licenses in Alabama is intended to standardize and streamline the practice statewide for all couples, the sponsor of the legislation said Friday.

The proposal would abolish state-issued marriage licenses received from county probate offices and instead require couples to file a form recording their marriage.

"Basically it's to calm these troubled waters that we're in," said the bill's sponsor Rep. Greg Albritton,  R-Bay Minette. "Things have been confusing and in an uproar, and lots of constitutional arguments have been going on for the last few years. What this bill will do is resolve any and all of those issues, I believe."

However, opponents say the bill is unnecessary and even detrimental.

"I see no benefit, and I see it as a very narrow-minded reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding same-sex marriages," Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed said. "I think it's unfortunate that this is taking up time in the legislature when there are many more pressing issues for this state to be working out."

Brian Huff, an attorney and former family court judge, said the legislation is political, not practical.

"I think the legislation that's been dropped this year is nothing more than legalizing bigotry," he said. "That's all it does – it allows people who want to discriminate against same-sex couples to do so, and it gives them a legal basis for doing it."

Read more here.

March 27, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Rising Influence of "All the Single Ladies"

From CBS News:

More and more women are getting married later in life, if at all, and it is changing "everything about the way the nation works."

That's according to New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister, who explores the rising influence and independence of unmarried women in her new book, "All the Single Ladies."

Between 1890 and 1990, the median age of first marriages for women fluctuated between 20 and 22. That number has now soared to 27. In 1960, 60 percent of young women were married, compared to just 20 percent today, according to the Pew Research Center/U.S. Census Bureau.

Traister says women have historically become "automatically dependent on their husbands," once they've entered marriages.

"I mean our government and our social policies and civil institutions are all built with one kind of society of citizenry pattern in mind - that's the married, still hetero married pair in which you have a male earner and a female domestic laborer - and that's not that way the world works anymore," Traister told "CBS This Morning" Monday.

But Traister says the "new pattern for adult female life" is giving women an "unprecedented level of economics, sexual and social independence that calls for a shift in our social policies, from taxes to housing.

"Even the way the schools let out at three in the afternoon and have big summer vacations - the assumption is there's some number of our population who are going to be home to take care of those children, and the assumption has always been that they're women," Traister said.

The powerful impact of single women also plays out in the world of politics. In 2012, unmarried women made up 23 percent of the electorate and voted for President Obama 67 to 31 over his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.

Read more here.

March 10, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 15, 2016

SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Did Not Make Commitment Ceremonies Marriages

From ABA Journal:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage does not make commitment ceremonies into marriages under New York law, an appeals court there ruled Tuesday.

According to the New York Law Journal, the state court system’s Appellate Division, First Department, ruled in Estate of Mauricio Leyton that Leyton’s 2002 commitment ceremony with David Hunter did not qualify as a marriage under state law. Leyton died in 2013.

The ruling means that Hunter is not disinherited even though he and Leyton split in 2010. Leyton’s 2001 will named Hunter as a 50 percent beneficiary and executor, and he never changed it after the breakup. Leyton’s mother would have inherited the entire estate if Hunter had been disinherited. Leyton’s sister brought the case on behalf of her mother.

State law provides that a former spouse is disinherited if a divorce takes place after a will is executed. But the court said state law requires the divorce to be effected by judicial decree. Though same-sex marriage was legalized in New York in 2011, the appellate court said, the couple made no effort to have their split recognized as a divorce. And the separation itself was not marked with any sort of ceremony.

Read more here.

January 15, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Court in China Accepts Gay Man's Lawsuit Demanding Marriage Rights

From NPR:

Chinese media say it's the first legal case to center on the rights of same-sex couples to marry: a gay man has sued a civil affairs bureau in Hunan province for rejecting his attempt to register his marriage to his boyfriend. A court accepted the case Tuesday.

The local court in Changsha, in central China's Hunan province, was responding to a filing made in December by Sun Wenlin, 26, who says an official in Changsha refused his application to marry his partner because their union wasn't between a man and a woman.

The police also came to Sun's house, he told China's Global Times, saying, "The officer kept emphasizing that it is important to have a child to carry on one's family name, but I can't abide by people imposing their values on me."

We should note that while the Global Times calls Sun's name a pseudonym, Reutersand The Wall Street Journal cite it as the man's actual name. Sun tells both of those news outlets that he's optimistic the court will rule in his favor.

Rights activists increasingly have been pushing for same-sex marriage to be legalized in China, particularly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry. Less than a week after that decision last summer, a prominent lesbian couple held a public wedding ceremony in Beijing.

Read more here.

January 14, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Alabama Chief Justice Orders Halt to Gay Marriage

From NBC News:

The chief justice of Alabama's supreme court ordered state officials Wednesday to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

But legal experts say the effect of his order is likely to be minimal and short-lived.

Roy Moore, acting in his capacity as the administrative head of the state court system, said he was acting because "confusion and uncertainty" exists among the Alabama officials, known as probate judges, who issue marriage licenses in the state.

Moore said they don't know whether to abide by a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court last March, which upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage, or the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June declaring such bans unconstitutional.

Only the Alabama Supreme Court can resolve that issue, Moore said.

The confusion persists, he said, because the June ruling applied immediately only to the four states whose bans were directly challenged — Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

But Moore's order ignores what's been happening in the federal courts. A federal judge in Alabama issued a ruling in May, declaring the state's ban on same-sex marriage invalid and forbidding probate judges to deny marriage licenses to gay couples.

And in October, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage nullified the earlier decision of Alabama's Supreme Court.

Read more here.

January 13, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Slovenia Votes Against Same-Sex Marriage and Same-Sex Child Adoption

From New Europe:

Slovenes overwhelmingly voted against same-sex marriage and child adoption. With 90% of votes counted on Sunday’s referendum, same-sex legislation introduced by the government earlier this week was resoundingly defeated by 63-37%.

On Sunday, December 20th, 1,7 million Slovenes went to the polls, in the predominantly Catholic post-Yugoslav Republic.

The Referendum was a reaction to the amendment passed on the marriage and family relations act on March 2015, redefining marriage from “a union between a man and a woman” to the union between “two consenting adults.”

Same-sex couples in Slovenia have rights equivalent to marriage, but the government intended to reintroduce legislation that would allow them to adopt children as well. That was a right already denied to same-sex couples in 2012.

The government abstained from campaigning.

Initially, campaigners managed to gather enough signatures to hold a referendum that would override legislation introduced by the government in March; the government then tried to bloc the referendum, suggesting that a human rights issues are not a matter of majority-minority relations; finally, the Constitutional Court forced the parliament to hold a referendum.

Read more here.

December 27, 2015 in Adoption, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

144 Years of Marriage and Divorce

From The Washington Post:

We often hear that marriage rates in the U.S. are declining. But what do trends in marriage and divorce really look like over the long run, and why?

In a new post, data tinkerer Randy Olson provides some clarity on those trends by pain-stakingly assembling and analyzing data on marriage and divorce rates going back to before 1870 from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

First, you can see that the common generalizations are true. As the chart shows, marriage rates have declined steadily since the 1980s. Today they are lower than any other time since 1870, including during the Great Depression. However, divorce rates today are actually slightly down compared with the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s on a per capita basis.

In addition, you can see that events like World War I, World War II and the Great Depression all had a significant impact on marriage and divorce rates.

Couples rushed to the altar before the wars started, as well as at their conclusion. As Olson notes, divorces also spiked after the conclusion of WWII, perhaps because some couples who had married rashly before the war realized their differences.

Read more here.

December 13, 2015 in Divorce (grounds), Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hundreds of Mormons Leaving Church Over Same-Sex Marriage Stance

From NBC News:

Hundreds of people are formally renouncing their membership in the Mormon church in protest over a new policy that punishes same-sex couples and their children, an attorney assisting them said.

Utah lawyer Mark Naugle, 30, whose family split with the church 15 years ago, is offering his services pro bono to those who want help with the paperwork involved in getting off the rolls — which have 15 million members.

In the week since the policy was announced, 1,700 people have contacted him, he said.  "People are fed up and just don't want their name associated with the church any more," Naugle said.

Salt Lake City realtor Joey Furtado, 42, became a Mormon as a teenager in Brazil and spent two years as a missionary before moving to Utah. But by 2001, he was disillusioned with his adopted faith and stopped attending services. But he said he never bothered to make it official, in part because he worried it would be a hassle.

"I have a friend who sent a resignation letter and months later had members of the church knocking at his door trying to reactivate him," Furtado said.

But after the church's declaration last week, Furtado decided to cut ties for good. "I am not a gay man. I have a girlfriend and two sons, so the policy does not affect me directly, but I have seen families in a situation like this," he said. "I don't want to have anything to do with them anymore ... enough is enough."

Leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn't require legal representation, but Naugle said that his forms simplify the process and he acts a buffer between clients and church leaders who may try to convince them not to leave.

Read more here.

November 16, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mormons Sharpen Stand Against Same-Sex Marriage

From The New York Times:

Children of same-sex couples will not be able to join the Mormon Church until they turn 18 — and only if they move out of their parents’ homes, disavow all same-sex relationships and receive approval from the church’s top leadership as part of a new policy adopted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In addition, Mormons in same-sex marriages will be considered apostates and ordered to undergo church disciplinary hearings that could lead to excommunication, a more rigid approach than the church has taken in the past.

The new policies are an effort by the church, which has long opposed same-sex marriage, to reinforce and even harden its doctrinal boundaries for its members at a time when small but increasing numbers of Mormons are coming out as gay or supportive of same-sex marriage.

At the same time, the church has recently been taking a tolerant public stance supportive of laws that ban discrimination against gay people in employment and housing. Since the Supreme Court established a right to same-sex marriage nationwide in June, Mormon leaders have parted company with the leaders of evangelical and other conservative churches by affirming that despite their religious convictions, even people of faith opposed to gay marriage must follow the law.

“The church is walking a fine line between on the one hand recognizing the reality of changing mores in American society externally, but internally holding the line on its own doctrinal rigor — its own beliefs and teachings,” said David Campbell, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame and a co-author of “Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics.”

Read more here.

November 14, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Clerks Must Issue Gay Marriage Licenses, Poll Finds

From U.S. News & World Report:

Linda Massey opposes gay marriage. But she was incensed last summer to see that Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

"If the government says you have to give out those marriage licenses, and you get paid to do it, you do it," says the 64-year-old retiree from Lewiston, Michigan. "That woman," she said of Davis, "should be out of a job."

Americans like Massey are at the heart of a shift in public opinion, an Associated Press-GfK poll has found. For the first time, most Americans expect government officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even over religious objections.

It's partly a matter of expecting public servants to do their jobs. But more broadly, the issue touches on a familiar dispute over which constitutional value trumps which: religious freedom, or equality under the law?

The question in recent months has entangled leaders with political sway, among them Pope Francis and the 2016 presidential contenders. But it's not a new conflict for a nation that has long wrestled with the separation of church and state.

Where Davis's answer was the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom — and she served jail time to back it up — a majority of respondents don't buy that argument when it comes to public officials issuing marriage licenses. That's a shift since an AP-GfK survey in July, when Americans were about evenly split. Then, 49 percent said officials with religious objections should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and 47 percent said they should be required to issue them.

Read more here.

November 8, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)