The Supreme Court has decided that same-sex marriage is legal and must be recognized in all 50 States. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority of the Court, recognized that our concept of marriage is an evolving concept. This interpretation demonstrates that Justice Kennedy and the rest of the majority recognize that the Constitution is a document that was intended by its authors to be a living and evolving document and not a static relic anchored in the late 18th Century. Regardless of people’s opinions about the Supreme Court’s decision, we must consider how this decision affects domestic law issues in North Carolina.
For instance, does this decision change the definition of “cohabitation” in North Carolina? Cohabitation by the dependent spouse can be the basis to terminate alimony. However, a substantial amount of North Carolina caselaw suggests that the “cohabitation” must be heterosexual in nature. Given the Supreme Court decision, North Carolina judges will arguably have to consider a same-sex cohabitation relationship as a basis to terminate alimony. If the courts begin to apply that standard, the courts may be urged to go further and look at cohabitation as a sharing of expenses issue rather than a morality-based issue.
Adoption is another issue that will be impacted by the Supreme Court decision. There are many children that need loving parents. Do we want sexual preference to prevent the adoption of those children?
Ultimately, we will likely never have unanimous agreement on the issue of same-sex marriage. However, as a Family Financial Mediator, I am concerned with children being raised in loving families. If those loving families happen to be same-sex marriages, then the children are the beneficiaries of that love. The trend in this Country has been decidedly in favor of same-sex marriage. Opponents will claims that there is some nefarious force causing this change. It is more properly attributable to an evolving way of thinking about marriage by the general population of the United States. This change illustrates one of the great things about our Country. We have had a fundamental change in our understanding of the concept of marriage. And this was accomplished through the channels of the law, without the overthrow of a government and without significant bloodshed. We should all celebrate a Country that allows for this type of change through peaceful channels. We must embrace our ability to evolve as we move into an uncertain future.