Marriage Equality and the Trump Administration: Advice for LGBT Couples

While it is difficult to predict exactly how Donald Trump’s presidency will affect LGBT rights and marriage equality in the United States, initial signs are not promising. On the one hand, he did say in a “60 Minutes” interview shortly after winning the November 8 election that, in the wake of Obergefell, marriage equality is “done “ and “settled.” On the other, his pick for vice president, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, has previously said allowing LGBT couples to marry will trigger a “societal collapse” and that denying marriage equality is not discrimination but enforcing “God’s idea.” Even more worrisome is that Trump’s announced plans for his first 100 days in office seem to call for a reversal of many advances in LGBT rights made under the Obama administration.

Judging the new administration based on its actions, rather than rhetoric, then, there is credible evidence that LGBT rights will be under threat during a Trump presidency.

When it comes to marriage equality, at least, there is some room for optimism, if only because any attempt to overturn Obergefell will take a considerable amount of time. Republican senators have already announced they will re-introduce so-called “religious freedom” legislation early in 2017. With a majority in both the House and Senate, and Trump in the White House, the law has a reasonable chance of passing and receiving the president’s signature.

Even if it passes, however, the legislation will directly conflict with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, which established marriage equality for all U.S. states and territories. That will set up another legal battle that will have to wind its way through the lower courts before it even reaches SCOTUS. Before the election, Trump released a list of potential nominees to replace Justice Scalia who passed away earlier this year, and many of them are opposed to marriage equality.

Advice for LGBT Couples, Families

Any change to marriage equality will likely take time, perhaps as long as two years. The legislative and judicial branches of the United States move slowly. This is good news, at least in the short-term. It’s unlikely the right to marry will be immediately stripped from LGBT couples the moment President-Elect Trump takes office.

This is not, however, a time to be complacent. While it is never a good idea to rush into marriage, same-sex couples already on the path to getting married would be wise to examine the timelines for their plans. If it is an option to get married sooner rather than later, consider moving up the date. There is no need to panic and rush to get married before Inauguration Day, but, if feasible, early to mid-2017 might be advisable Get More Information.

For those already married, consider reviewing existing wills, trusts, and other documents with an eye to future actions that walk back marriage equality. There is no indication yet that same-sex marriages performed in the states that allowed them before Obergefell and those that came after would be made invalid. It does, however, not hurt to ensure the right documents are in place to protect your family. This is good advice at all times, and perhaps more so now in this period of uncertainty.

At Shelton & Deon we understand this might be a worrying time for our LGBT clients. We suggest an approach of watchful waiting, and being ready. Many did not believe marriage equality would ever come to pass in the United States, and, thankfully, it has. Now, we must be vigilant to protect all the hard-won rights secured for LGBT Americans, and also plan for our future.

If you would like to discuss your situation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Posted in LGBT Law.