In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that it is unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriages. Because many states ban same-sex marriage by way of constitutional amendments, some state courts may eventually construe Obergefell as overturning these amendments in their entirety. However, this Article addresses the conceivable consequences of the Supreme Court’s holding by examining the possibility that some state courts may construe Obergefell as only partially invalidating state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, leaving the door open to limitations on the benefits provided to same-sex couples. This Article begins by evaluating the various state constitutional amendments that preclude same-sex marriages, analyzing the reach of the Supreme Court’s holding in light of the expansive constructions of the state amendments. To help rationalize the various interpretations of state constitutional amendments concerning marriage, the Author explores stepparent and second-parent adoption statutes in regards to the legal benefits acquired by marriage.

This Article continues by discussing the scope of state constitutional amendments in relation to current demographics of co-habitating, unmarried partners. The Author suggests two ways state legislatures may treat unmarried partners in accordance with evolving demographics: (1) state legislatures may choose not to provide any of the benefits or burdens of marriage upon a couple who chooses not to marry; or (2) state legislatures may offer different benefits and burdens to couples depending on their status (i.e. married or unmarried but cohabitating). The Author concludes by emphasizing the potential effects the Supreme Court’s holding may have on the institution of marriage, whether it be by restricting a state’s ability to provide benefits to non-marital couples, or allowing some burdens imposed on same-sex couples by state constitutional amendments to remain unabated by the vague language imposed in Obergefell.