Twenty years ago, while I was in law school and no states in the country recognized gay marriages, we barely debated the issue of gay marriages, in fact it seemed the enactment of DOMA (The Defense Against Marriage Act) which defined a marriage for purposes of federal law as only the bond between a man and a woman, was a clear indication that unfortunately our nation was not at all ready to entertain the idea of gay unions.

Somehow in the 21st century, in large part I think we must credit social media, the gay-rights movement gained national attention, and by 2013 over a dozen states recognized gay marriages, which then created some uncertainty as to what would happen with unequal treatment of these individuals for purposes of federal rights or the application of matrimonial laws in the event of death or divorce in different states.  Lawyers cannot live with ambiguity, so it was not a surprise to hear that the Supreme Court finally struck down DOMA as unconstitutional on June 26, 2013, a day I will vividly remember because I learned of the decision just as I was exiting DC Superior Court, and therefore I was able to easily walk to the Supreme Court to see the rainbow flags and people celebrating the news.

Two years ago, after DOMA was declared unconstitutional, President Obama stated, “the laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”  Fast forward just two years later (with only about 12 states not on board with recognizing gay marriages), and finally today, once and for all, the Supreme Court has stated that bans on gay marriages are unconstitutional. As Justice Kennedy so eloquently stated: No union is more profound than marriage for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family… [the petitioners] respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.. they ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Today is a momentous day demonstrating just how far we have come in the evolution of family law over the last 40 years, and it has been an honor over the past 17 years to be part of many of the sweeping changes that promote a broader view of how we define a family and what we need to consider in the best interest of our children.  

Supremes- you earned your name today– well, at least 5 of you.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.