Why DOMA Doesn't Change Much For Legally Married Gay Couples In Texas

Today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, won't change things much in Texas.

The part of DOMA that declared states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states remains intact.

Charles "Rocky" Rhodes is a constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law.  He says the ruling leaves an important question unanswered.

"Does the federal government have to recognize a marriage that was lawfully entered into in New York, and then the spouses move to Texas?  Texas doesn't recognize that marriage.  But now, does the federal government have to?  So we're going to have some difficult issues that are going to be arising from this decision." 

Rhodes predicts the federal government will, ultimately, recognize same-sex couples who get married in one state, then move to another that doesn't allow such unions.

He points out that today's decision was narrowly focused on the part of DOMA that pertained to whether same-sex spouses should be granted benefits at the federal level.

"So that other provision of DOMA provides further support to Texas for not recognizing a same-sex marriage that was lawfully entered into in Massachusetts or New York.  That provision was not at issue.  And so, therefore, that provision survives.  And that was not held to be unconstitutional."

Rhodes predicts the next round in the legal battle over same-sex marriage will be to get all states to recognize those marriages.

He says neither the DOMA ruling, nor the decision on Proposition 8 in California, touched on whether same-sex marriages should be required by the constitution.

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