The Supreme Court today struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and rejected a challenge to a lower court ruling that invalidated California’s ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8. Gregory Magarian, JD, constitutional law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, says that the immediate effects of these decisions for same-sex couples will be profound. “The demise of DOMA means that the federal government must treat same-sex couples, legally married under state laws, just like opposite-sex married couples for purposes of federal benefits, tax status, etc,” he says. “The nullification of Proposition 8 appears to make marriage available to same-sex couples in the nation’s largest state, under a prior marriage law that Proposition 8 had purported to invalidate.”
A district judge’s decision to overturn California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage technically puts the issue one step away from the U.S. Supreme Court. But Washington University in St. Louis experts say a final ruling may wait until other, similar cases work their way through the legal system.
Frank K. FlinnIn November, California citizens passed Proposition 8 upholding the idea that marriage is defined as and limited to the union of one man with one woman. The vote has given encouragement to many in other states who want to pass similar legislation. The United States is about to enter a period of legal upheaval on the question of marriage in the civil law, suggests Frank K. Flinn, Ph.D., adjunct professor of religious studies in Arts & Sciences. His proposal? Give marriage to the churches and let the state define civil unions.
She has argued that the institution of marriage has always been dynamic, shifting to fulfill economic needs in societies or kin groups.
Family historian Stephanie Coontz will debunk popular myths about marriage and the family in her Assembly Series/School of Law lecture, “Courting Disaster? The World Historical Transformation of Marriage.” The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 11 a.m.Wednesday, February 1 in Graham Chapel.
When both husband and wife hold college degrees, it is the husband’s degree — and the husband’s degree alone — that typically determines whether a “power couple” will move to another city for career purposes, suggests a new study by economists at Washington University in St. Louis. The study is bad news for young women seeking gender equity in salary and career opportunities.
Promoting healthy marriages in African-American communities.The Bush Administration has introduced proposals to renew Temporary Assistance for Needy Families that include spending $1.5 billion over five years to create programs with the goal of promoting marriage, reducing divorce and creating incentives for fathers to be involved in their children’s lives. “Although controversial, President Bush’s plan to make marriage promotion an explicit element of the government’s anti-poverty policy sends an urgent call to African-American faith communities to increase and expand marriage promotion and building activities within their congregations,” says Stephanie Boddie, Ph.D., a noted community development expert and assistant professor in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. “Faith leaders in the African-American community need to be aware of the current vigorous debate about the definition, purpose, jurisdiction and future of marriage under way in the United States that is influencing federal welfare policy.”
The recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court allowing same-sex marriages relied on the state constitution’s guarantees of both individual liberty and equality to conclude that no rational basis supports the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage and its benefits, according to Susan Appleton, a family law expert at Washington University in St. Louis. “Although the court took a bold step, the outcome follows unremarkably from a number of contemporary legal developments,” says Appleton, the Lemma Barkeloo & Phoebe Couzins Professor of Law.
Photo courtesy of Tom Paule PhotographyMarrying for love … and money.Becoming wealthy and creating a happy family are two key components to achieving the American Dream, but do marriage and children have any impact on your chances of becoming rich? “Marriage substantially increases a person’s likelihood of becoming affluent,” says Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis and co-author of a study out this month that looks at earnings over the course of a person’s lifetime. “Having children, however, significantly lowers the probability of becoming wealthy for all people,” Rank adds.