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US Supreme Court could hear same-sex marriage cases this year

Same-sex marriage has received a great deal of attention in Massachusetts in recent years. Several court cases regarding details of laws impacting same-sex couples could be presented to the Supreme Court as early as this year. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently said she thinks it is likely the issue will be before the court soon.

The Supreme Court may announce this week whether they will see these cases which question the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) this year. Two cases out of Massachusetts could be part of the hearings.

The first case would determine whether the federal government must recognize legal same-sex marriages. This could have significant impacts on same-sex couples as it may allow them to receive federal benefits for married couples that currently only heterosexual married couples can receive. The second case questions whether states must recognize a couple's legal same-sex marriage from another state. This case could also have significant implications for married same-sex couples.

If the Supreme Court rules that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages, many Massachusetts couples would gain federal benefits that heterosexual married couples already enjoy. For instance, tax filings and social security benefits would be impacted if the federal government recognized same-sex marriages.

If a same-sex couple's marriage becomes legally recognized by the federal government, same-sex divorce agreements could also be impacted by the law change. Same-sex couples who may divorce soon might wish to talk with a family law attorney that specializes in same-sex divorces to determine how the potential court decisions would impact them.

Source: Boston.com, "Supreme Court, gay marriage, Massachusetts-this could be the year," Jim Lopata, Sept. 21, 2012

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