More than two years ago, in United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the section of the Defense of Marriage Act that blocked the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples.
This year, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruled that state laws could not prohibit same sex marriages because they would violate the constitutional principles of equal protection and due process.
Now the tax code may be following suit. This month, the I.R.S. proposed regulations to redefine the meaning of "marriage" and "spouse" under the tax code. The proposal is available here.
If the new regulations go through, the I.R.S. would recognize any marriage that is recognized in any state or territory of the U.S. That basically removes gender from the definition of marriage. Likewise, "spouse" would mean any individual lawfully married to another.
The wheels of justice may grind slow, but the tax code is swift and sure.
There may be more changes coming.
In a Harvard Law Review comment published this month, NYU professor Kenji Yoshino pointed out that the Obergefell decision was a statement as sweeping in its scope as Loving v. Virginia (which overturned bans on mixed-race marriages). By resting its decision on both liberty and equality, Due Process and the Equal Protection Clause, the Supreme Court likely opened the way toward further cases seeking to legalize, for example, polygamy. He also predicted the Obergefell analysis would likely be used in future abortion cases.