In the state of Illinois, same-sex marriage was officially legalized last year. Legislative efforts and the resulting Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act have allowed same-sex partners to marry since June 2014 in Illinois, but the rest of the nation has not been so quick to follow suit. Even following the landmark U.S Supreme Court decision this past summer which struck down same-sex marriage bans, some parts of the country seem to be hesitant to fully implement the practice. In fact, at least one elected official has been arrested for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of the Supreme Court ruling.
Law of the Land v. Religious Freedom
Last week, a county clerk in Kentucky was incarcerated by federal judge as she was found to be in contempt of court for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The woman has cited her religious faith as the reason she cannot comply with at least two federal court orders instructing her to carry out her duties as county clerk. She claimed in court documents that issuing licenses to same-sex couples “irreparably and irreversibly violates her conscience.” The sentencing judge acknowledged his own religious leanings, while stating that the oath of public office trumps personal beliefs.
While the situation in Kentucky is a long way from over, the case could potentially have much larger ramifications on the debate over public service and personal conscience. Religious groups argue that a government of the people, by the people, for the people—to borrow from Abraham Lincoln—will, by definition, be comprised of individuals with differing beliefs. Public policy, they maintain, should not require an individual to violate his or her own moral code. On the other hand, there are many who believe that a person not willing to fully uphold the law should not be in public service. The issue of personal freedoms and the role of government is one that is likely to continue to be debated for decades to come.
Legal Concerns for Same-Sex Couples
From a practical standpoint, same-sex couples now face many of the same concerns as heterosexual couples. With marriage comes the possibility of divorce and other related issues, and it is important to be prepared. A prenuptial agreement can help partners identify personal and marital property—as this is often an area of ambiguity in same-sex unions—and make arrangements for unforeseen future circumstances. Same-sex partners with children, however, may face additional complexities, which may be alleviated by a legally recognized adoption. This can help provide security for both the child and parents, as well as increased parental rights in the event of divorce.
If you are in a same-sex relationship and are considering marriage, an experienced Joliet family law attorney can provide the legal guidance you need. Contact Kezy & Associates today for a free consultation. We will help you understand the law and work with you in creating the happiness and security you deserve.