12 LGBT advocacy groups have joined together to issue After DOMA: What it Means For You –  LGBT Organizations Fact Sheet Series.

Lambda Legal does advise to keep in mind the following:

  • The Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor applies only to the federal government.  It does not change discriminatory state laws excluding same-sex couples from state-conferred marriage rights.

  • The ruling striking down DOMA will not be effective until 25 days from the decision.  Even when effective, federal agencies—large bureaucracies—may need and take some time to change forms, implement procedures, train personnel, and efficiently incorporate same-sex couples into the spousal-based system.

  • Until same-sex couples can marry in every state in the nation, there will be uncertainty about the extent to which same-sex spouses will receive federal marital-based protections nationwide.  For federal programs that assess marital status based on the law of a state that does not respect marriages of same-sex couples, those state laws will likely pose obstacles for legally married couples and surviving spouses in accessing federal protections and responsibilities.

  • Securing fair access to federal protections that come with marriage for all same-sex couples in the nation will take some time and work.  In some situations, it may require Congressional action or formal rule-making by agencies.

  • Before making a decision, it is essential that you consult an attorney for individualized legal advice.   This is particularly important for people who are on certain public benefits, as getting married may jeopardize your eligibility without providing you the full measure of protections other married couples enjoy.  In addition, couples who travel to another place to marry and then return to live in a state that does not respect their marriage may be unfairly unable to obtain a divorce, which can lead to serious negative legal and financial consequences. People must make careful decisions when and where to marry, even as we work together to end this injustice.   

  • We are committed to winning universal access to federal marital protections for married same-sex couples through ongoing public policy advocacy, and, where necessary, strategic litigation.  Contact our organizations if you have questions, for updates and to learn more about what you can do to achieve full equality for those who are LGBT.

    These factsheets provide guidance to same-sex couples and their families as they navigate accessing federal rights, benefits, and protections. The guide includes 14 factsheets on the following topics:



     Lambda Legal has Legal Help Desk staff ready to answer the many questions that married same-sex couples will have about how these rulings affect them. Visit: or call866-542-8336.


     And if you live in California, Lambda Legal, NCLR, Equality California and the ACLU prepared a fact sheet about marriage for same-sex couples in California