A2. Marriage

  Summary of contents in textbook

“Marriage” is defined as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife and same-sex marriages is non-recognized in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA 1997).

Marriage is a rather complex social institution that includes legal, economic, emotional, sexual, and political factors.

Marriage is a legal contract in the United States, which gives the government more legal control to this private affair. eg. The state is in charge of the final divorce arrangements(property, children, alimony,etc.) Only heterosexual marriage is legal. Non recognition of same-sex marriage.

Marriage is an economic arrangement which indicates that marriage is generally built on the same social class.

Marriage is a sexual relationship A spouse is also your legal sex partner. Social norms and marriage law prohibits extra-marital sex.

Marriage emotionally means commitment which is about love, honor and obey. Permanence is of great significance to be included for the one with deep Christian belief in the United States.

Marriage is a political arena, The power relations between husband and wife take a variety of forms. Feminist: “The personal is political”.








Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage on the State Level

Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage on the State Level


Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage on the State Level

Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage on the State Level


Marriage is a legal contract

Marriage is a legal contract


Marriage is an economic arrangement

Marriage is an economic arrangement


Marriage is a sexual relationship

Marriage is a sexual relationship


Marriage means commitment

Marriage means commitment



Marriage is a political arena

Marriage is a political arena

Marital Satisfaction over the Stages of Family Life Cycle

  Supplementary readings

Part 1 Development in same-sex marriage  laws


Rainbow lights shone on the White House to celebrate Friday’s US supreme court ruling.

On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court rules that states cannot ban same-sex marriage.


In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Two provisions of DOMA were particularly significant. One allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states. The other provided a definition of “marriage” and “spouse” that excluded same-sex couples. This definition controlled over 1,000 federal laws in which marital or spousal status is addressed for purposes of federal benefits. It did not itself ban same-sex marriages, nor did it require states to do so.

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, followed by California.


1) how to deal with same-sex marriages that were lawful in the state in which they were performed, but were not recognized by another state which did not allow them (for example, if a couple moved)

2) how to reconcile the law of states that recognized same-sex marriage, with the denial of federal benefits under DOMA.

The two remarkable Supreme Court rulings:

U.S. v. Windsor

The Windsor case involved a New York widow, who married her partner in Canada, and her marriage was recognized by the State of New York. Her partner died, and Ms. Windsor was denied the benefit of a spousal deduction for federal estate taxes because DOMA barred recognition of Ms. Windsor as a “spouse.” She paid more in federal taxes than she would have if the federal government had recognized her marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court found that the section of DOMA that limited marriage and spouse to only opposite-sex couples was unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Writing for the court, Justice Kennedy concluded that New York had protected a class of people, and DOMA took that protection away, resulting in a violation of basic due process and equal protection.

Because the definition in DOMA applied to a wide variety of federal laws, the holding affected many areas, including social security, benefits under the Family & Medical Leave Act, taxes, bankruptcy, immigration, military spousal benefits, to name a few. However, the holding only applied to marriages that were legal under the law of the state. The holding did not apply to same-sex couples in states whose laws did not recognize same-sex marriage.

Obergefell v. Hodges

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that, under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, states must license a marriage between two people of the same sex, and must recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State. In that case, Obergefell v. Hodges, fourteen same-sex couples and two men whose same-sex partners were deceased, challenged the laws of their states, raising the following two issues: 1) whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex; and 2) whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to recognize a same-sex marriage licensed and performed in a state that does not grant that right.

Justice Anthony Kennedy authored a 5-4 decision answering “yes” to both of those questions. After discussing the development of marriage as an institution, and the evolution of the rights of gays and lesbians, the opinion concluded that marriage is a fundamental right that applies with equal force to same-sex couples. Justice Kennedy referenced four principles in reaching this conclusion:

The right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.
It supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.
It safeguards children and families by providing stability, recognition, and predictability, as well as economic benefits.
Marriage is integral to our country’s social order.
“It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality”, wrote Kennedy. As such, same-sex couples may not be deprived of the fundamental right to marry, meaning same-sex couples may marry in all states, and states must recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another state.

Same-Sex Marriage Fast Facts from CNN Libary  (Updated 1917 GMT (0317 HKT) July 27, 2016)

Part 2 Immigration marriage fraud

Marriage fraud is the term used to describe when a foreign-born person marries a U.S. citizen or, less commonly, a lawful permanent resident, for the sole or primary purpose of getting a green card (U.S. lawful permanent residence).

1/5 to 1/3 of the immigration marriage are frauds.

In 2015, Xiaozhengyi and his daughter were arrested and sued. In the last 9 years, they earned over 3.5 million yuan from more than 70 cases.

Penalties Faced by the Immigrant

An immigrant who committed marriage fraud would likely be removed from the United States (deported) and his or her current visa (if any) revoked. In addition, the fraud would destroy the person’s future eligibility for a U.S visa or green card.

Any individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for not more than five years, or fined not more than $250,000, or both.

The above comes from section 275(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.).


Penalties Faced by the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident

The U.S. spouse could face substantial fines and even jail time if convicted of this crime. The most severe penalties are usually applied to those who engage in conspiracy operations, such as systematically arranging fraudulent marriage. But that doesn’t mean that an individual who enters into a fraudulent marriage won’t also be punished.

If the spouse is only a U.S. permanent resident, not a citizen, he or she might be placed into removal proceedings and ultimately deported.


  Useful websites

1. Same-sex marriage in the United States

2. History of same-sex marriage in the United States

3. United States v. Windsor

4. Obergefell v. Hodges

5. Marriage in the United States

6. Penalties for Committing Immigration marriage fraud