U of M Professor: SCOTUS Ruling is Not a Done Deal

Updated: 02/19/2015 10:40 AM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

There's plenty for gay marriage supporters to celebrate, but it's short of a complete victory.

As University of Minnesota Professor Timothy R. Johnson explained, "this is not a done deal at all." Johnson says the Supreme Court decisions won't immediately change much for same-sex couples in Minnesota.

Some changes will take effect when same-sex couples can legally marry on Aug. 1. Johnson says the changes mostly fall into a few key categories -- income taxes, estate taxes and federal benefits like social security. But when it comes to benefits through a private employer, like health insurance, things get tricky.

"Your private company, if you work for a private company, does not necessarily have to give you those benefits," Johnson explained.

He thinks more litigation will have to be filed before private companies are forced to act.

"I can almost guarantee you those lawsuits are probably being initiated today or tomorrow or within the next week or so," he said.

It's a different story if someone in a same-sex relationship is a federal employee. In that case, federal benefits, including health insurance, will be made available to married same-sex couples.

Overall, Johnson says the court rulings represent an important step for Minnesota's same-sex couples -- but it's not the end of the road.

"The story has not ended," he said. "Period. It hasn't ended, but the momentum is clearly in favor of legalizing gay marriage for the entire country within the coming years."

Johnson thinks an eventual Supreme Court decision that would legalize gay marriage throughout the country is likely. However, he says the ruling would probably be a result of new litigation and would therefore be about three to five years away.