Washington State residents have been in the middle of a changing political and legal landscape for gay rights since the previous election. With gay marriage legalized in Washington, gay and lesbian couples have been exercising their right to legally wed, as well as figuring out basic marriage certificate, child custody, and benefit issues which sometimes can be confusing and difficult to find answers to.
Similarly, with the landmark ruling handed down by the Supreme Court this week concerning the unconstitutionality of the Defense Against Marriage Amendment, gay couples around the nation are attempting to piece together their new found legal rights, benefits and responsibilities. The federal government can now granny a varying array of benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in states across the US, including Washington. At stake includes an array of federal benefits, including social security survivors, immigration, military and tax benefits.
While the Court found DOMA to be unconstitutional, it still leaves the decision on whether to legalize marriage to each individual state. Further clarification regarding how the ruling will affect states with and without legalized gay marriage will ultimately have to be answered by congress or the courts.
The unconstitutionality of DOMA effectively means that lesbian and gay couples living in states like Washington where same-sex marriage is legal are entitled to the same federal protections and benefits afforded to heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples living in Washington with questions regarding issues such as immigration, tax, child support and federal benefits can ask an attorney for advice and answers. While it may take time to fully understand the ramifications of the Supreme Court's ruling, it is a positive step for same-sex couples in Washington.
Source: The Olympian, "DOMA decision leaves uncertainty," June 27, 2013