How the Death of DOMA Affects Same-Sex Couples in Georgia

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled DOMA (known as the Defense of Marriage Act), the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states, unconstitutional by a vote of 5-4.

With DOMA stricken down by the Supreme Court and thinking about the future of gay rights, a question that comes to the minds of many is how does DOMA affect same-sex couples marrying and living in Georgia?

Georgia’s constitutional amendment, passed in 2004, remains intact defining marriage between a man and a woman, and same-sex couples cannot marry or enter into civil unions.

The DOMA ruling has no immediate affect on same-sex marriage bans like Georgia. However, if gay couples in Georgia wanted to get married in one of the 12 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) or Washington D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal, each spouse is eligible to receive federal rights and benefits including Social Security survivor benefits and tax breaks. (The law goes into effect on August 1, 2013 in Minnesota and Rhode Island.)

States that recognize civil unions (Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey) grant couples most of the rights of state civil marriage, but provide none of the federal benefits of marriage like Social Security. The rights under civil unions include spousal support, medical decision-making privileges, access to a partner’s insurance, and hospital visitation rights.

For unmarried and same-sex couples living in Georgia, it’s important to possess the following documents:

  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Advance Directive for Healthcare (formerly a Living Will)
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
  • Power of Attorney for Minor Children 

The dissolution of DOMA has opened the doors to more rights for the LGBTQ community. As the legal system continues to evolve and attorneys taking on LGBTQ related cases, attorneys will require continuing education and increased intelligence into each state’s law to represent their client and their case. 

Speak with Our Domestic Partnership & Family Law Attorneys Today

Understand your rights and options with an initial consultation. To schedule an appointment or to receive additional information, contact the Atlanta Metro attorneys of Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor today at 678-971-3413 or complete our simple contact form.

With three strategically located offices in Atlanta, Alpharetta, and Marietta, we act as advocates for partners and families throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area, including clients in Atlanta, Marietta, Alpharetta, Buckhead, Canton, Dallas, Decatur, Douglasville, Duluth, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Kennesaw, Lawrenceville, Milton, Roswell, Sandy Springs and Smyrna.