Same-Sex Marriage & Gender Equality

In May 2008, the California Supreme Court held that the state constitution guarantees the right to marry to all, regardless of sexual orientation. The Court held various Family Code statutes unconstitutional as their provisions distinguished between same sex and opposite sex couples.

However, in November 2008, Proposition 8 was passed by California voters. This initiative measure amended the state constitution by declaring that only opposite-sex marriages were valid and recognized in the state. Prop. 8 was challenged and upheld by the Supreme Court as a “permissible constitutional amendment.” However, the court also held that the measure was not retroactive and allowed some same-sex marriages to stand.

Thereafter, Prop. 8 was challenged based on the United States Constitution. The Federal District Court, upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals, held that Prop. 8 violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The United States Supreme Court did not decide the case on the merits but based on a procedural issue, namely, lack of standing standing, kicked the case back down to the 9th Circuit, who dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, effectively making same sex marriage legal in California.

In 2015, the crux of the issue of same sex marriage was settled by the United States Supreme Court. It held that same-sex couples have a fundamental constitutional right to marry throughout the nation.

In the area of child custody, Courts have held that sexual orientation is not a determinative factor regarding the issue of custody; though they have held that it is a factor to be considered as far as the court found it relevant regarding the child’s best interest. However, though unclear today, it is highly unlikely a court today would consider sexual orientation a factor in custody. Today, same sex couples can register as domestic partners and have the same rights regarding their children. They can even be considered parents of their children if they are not registered as partners. The Supreme Court has allowed a second parent of a same sex couple adopt a child as the natural child.

In the area of child custody, a Court may not prefer a parent due to the parent’s gender. Furthermore, two parents of the same gender can be granted parental rights (thus, custody).

Having litigated on matters regarding a same sex couple before, Patrick Baghdaserians is well-versed in ensuring that his clients’ rights are aggressively protected regardless of their sexual orientation or status. Patrick Baghdaserians also has a long track record of ensuring that his client’s rights are never impacted by their gender.

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