Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Impact of California's Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages on Labor and Employment Law

California In a word: huge.

Today‚Äôs California Supreme Court gay marriage case, finding that such unions are recognized in California, has both direct and indirect significance for many aspects of labor and employment law.  Here are just two.

On the direct side, the court ruled that sexual orientation is now a suspect classification under the state equal protection clause. This will work to protect state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

On the more indirect side of things, just think about the recent Michigan Supreme Court decision on same-sex benefits.  The passage of the same-sex marriage ban in Michigan was found to prevent governments and universities in Michigan from providing health insurance to the partners of gay workers. California workers will now not have to worry about such absurd developments.

Finally, it is finally great to see that a court of some significance rule what should be clear to everyone: banning same-sex marriage is a per se violation of equal protection.  It violates the central tenet of "equal justice under law." 

My hope is that some day are descendants will look at our treatment of the LGBT community as something akin to not permitting women the right to vote or the banning of inter-racial marriages.

Hat Tip:    Art Leonard


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Actually, Californians will have to worry, to some extent, because it is likely that this November's ballot will include an initiative to amend the state constitution to overrule the court by banning same-sex marriages. Happily (if a silver lining can be found) the initiative is focused solely on marriage, does not seek to repeal the Domestic Partners Law, and does not follow the Michigan path of also outlawing our forms of recognition for unmarried partners. Public opinion polls in California show a gradual move towards acceptance of letting same-sex partners marry, but there is no firm prediction from the local pundits on how the initiative vote will turn out.

Posted by: Art Leonard | May 16, 2008 8:41:02 AM

This might seem like a shameless plug but we have been behind gay marriage for years and now we can see an end to this fiasco.
OK, we are a marriage service but that's not the point. The fact that people who have lived and loved for years should have the same rights and marriage service as heterosexual people. So a wedding at sea is just around the corner.

Posted by: Barry Crowther | May 19, 2008 4:26:31 PM

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