Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide

On Friday, June 26, the United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 to give same sex couples in all 50 states the Constitutional right to get married. The Obergefell v. Hodges decision is based on the holding that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.

Colette Seguin Beighley, Grand Valley State University LGBT Center director, expressed her excitement that marriage equality has been granted to same sex couples across the nation. Seguin Beighley said the law will give many families the benefits that were previously for heterosexual couples only.

“Some of the benefits of marriage include access to each other’s health insurance as well as providing couples with children the ability to each have full parental rights,” she explained. “Marriage also includes over 1,000 tax benefits.”

Another reason Seguin Beighley is happy with the decision is because it can help end discrimination.

“This decision from the highest court in the land is a profound acknowledgement of the massive discrimination LGBT individuals and families experience and a huge step toward addressing these injustices,” she said. “We celebrate with those for whom this decision is a beautiful, meaningful and long-awaited victory.”

Kyle Felker, digital initiatives librarian and LGBT Faculty and Staff Association member, shares in Seguin Beighley’s excitement over the new ruling. Felker said same-sex couples will face less “ambiguity and paperwork.”

“It will provide much-needed clarity and stability for LGBT families with children,” Felker said. “The FSA is communicating with GVSU human resources about what steps, if any, couples who are already married need to go through to have their benefits and taxes reflect their married status.”

A big part of this effort includes making sure faculty and staff understand what their options are, Felker said. He added that transgender faculty and staff will also have an easier time because they will not have to worry about having their legal marriages challenged based on the gender they were given at birth.