As much as we might think language is static the truth is it is very dynamic. You might occasionally hear the word "hark" used today, but probably only if you're watching a Shakespeare play. Parcel used to mean partly. Now it pretty much only refers to a package.
The social consciousness in Minnesota around sexual orientation and gender identity has been undergoing significant change in the past several decades. Marriage between same-sex couples was legal in the state long before the U.S. Supreme Court declared marriages legal across the nation last year.
The legal system in the United States is considered the best in the world by many standards. That does not mean it is without complications, and the practice of family law is not immune.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Minnesota for a few years now. With that equity of recognition under state law came equity across the legal board, in theory if not always in practice anyway.
While we discussed the impact of the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hedges in our July 3, 2015, post, we know that legal experts are still determining the full range of legal issues the ruling will affect. The newly married same-sex couples will learn that marriage comes with many legal benefits -- including the employer-sponsored benefits we talked about last time -- and just as many legal obligations.
Unless you're personally connected to the issue, it may not be clear exactly why the recent decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide is a big deal in Minnesota. After all, same-sex marriage was already legal here, and we have a number of other laws protecting the civil rights of LGBT people. Wasn't the Supreme Court just forcing other states to do what Minnesota has already done?
At a certain age, you begin to think about some of the decisions you've made over the years. At times, you may ask yourself, "What was I thinking?" In some cases, you can honestly say, "It seemed like a good idea at the time." It's over and done with; now it's time to move on.
Another barrier has fallen for same-sex married couples. For the past couple of years, Minnesota has watched as other states struggle with the constitutionality of same-sex marriage laws. We know, of course, that there is work to be done to equalize or to neutralize every discriminatory law here, but we know, too, that we have made tremendous progress. We know that we have become another haven for couples that wish to marry in their home states but cannot.
The U.S. Department of State announced recently that the Same-sex Domestic Partner benefit program is moving closer to the chopping block. The department has toyed with the idea, it seems, since the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v. Windsor struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act. The program allows domestic partners to obtain diplomatic passports, gives them access to medical facilities in foreign outposts and covers expenses to visit family members or employees in an emergency.
Legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota on August 1, 2014 opened a lot of doors for homosexual couples across the state. Not only were their unions now allowed and recognized by state law but they now had rights concerning other family law issues such as child custody and divorce.