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U.S. Supreme Court makes two key rulings on same sex marriage - KOAM TV 7

U.S. Supreme Court makes two key rulings on same sex marriage

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Supporters of gay marriage are celebrating two decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court.  One ruling gives same sex couples federal benefits.  The other paves the way for same-sex marriages in California.

Businesses across the country must now offer the same federal benefits to workers as those offered to heterosexual couples.  This includes 401-K's.

Joplin attorney Bill Fleischaker says business owners could view this as financially beneficial or otherwise, especially when talking about healthcare.

"One argument, you've got more people in the pool so that helps spread the cost further so that may not increase the rates, on the other hand, if the company is losing money on dependent coverage then they're going to have more losses," says Fleischaker.

Brandon Rogers-Plott and his same-sex partner have been working ever since last year to have their marriage legally recognized.

"I was just shocked, I mean my heart stopped, but in a good way," says Rogers-Plott.  "If we divorced or if anything happened, it was split evenly 100 percent, whatever we had together.  And if one of us died, the other automatically had access to the assets."

But other benefits offered by the federal government were off limits up until now.

"You can use your spouse as a dependent - children, vehicles, health insurance," says Rogers-Plott.

"The Constitution of the United States requires each state to give full faith and credit to the laws of other states, which basically means if they are legally married in California or any other state that allows gay marriage and then they relocated to a different state that may not allow gay marriage, the employers in those states are going to have to follow federal law, because federal law is what controls pension benefits and health plans and so forth," says Fleischaker.

Meaning, since attorneys say marriage is legally defined as receiving federal government benefits, gay and lesbian couples must now be recognized everywhere in the country.

Some say this new freedom shifts away from the nation's foundation.

"If we base our country on Godly principles, we should view marriage as between a man and wife," says Muchenegetwa Bgoni.  "I think, in all fairness, if we are a democratic country we should show the world that, hey guys, this is a sensitive issue, so the best thing to do - let's put it to the ballot."

But attorneys say times have changed and so has the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of marriage.

Attorneys say there are many hypothetical questions that are being raised after Wednesday's court ruling, including divorce procedures for gay and lesbian couples.  Attorneys believe those details will be worked out in future court hearings.

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