The United States Supreme Court decision in June 2013 to strike down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) affects only federal marriage benefits. Learn what benefits and responsibilities are affected by the end of DOMA (pdf).
State marriage benefits are not affected by the DOMA decision. Nevada’s constitution has a discriminatory definition of marriage, limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples and prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages conducted in other states. Nevada does have domestic partnerships that confer similar rights and responsibilities as marriage to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, but domestic partnerships are not legally the same as marriage and are not recognized by the federal government.
There are over 1,100 places in federal law where a protection or responsibility is based on marital status. Nevadans who were legally married in another state will be eligible for any federal benefits that are determined by where they were married. However, many federal benefits are based on where a couple lives, not where they were married. The status of other benefits is simply not clear, and future administrative orders, policies, laws, and lawsuits may change couples’ eligibility for benefits. Learn what the end of DOMA means for you, your friends and your family (pdf).
Should we get married now that we can get federal marriage benefits?
Marriage is a personal decision. From a legal standpoint, it's important to get advice from an attorney. This is true especially if you have, or are applying for, public benefits. Getting married may make you lose eligibility for some public benefits without actually giving you all the protections that opposite-sex married couples enjoy. Plus, should you ever need a divorce, you may have difficulty obtaining one in Nevada if you married somewhere else.