Free Legal Gay Marriages




 


















We are proud to introduce a new service for same-sex couples from anywhere in the world who want to have a legal wedding.  If you hire us to plan your big party/wedding/celebration in your home state or country, wherever it is you live, whatever size, shape or design you have in mind, we will give you a free Vows package, ensuring that you can be legally married.  We'll also throw in a mini wedding cake and personal flowers (bouquet/boutonniere).  

The Vows package is a $725 value and includes everything you need to make it legal.  We'll get you to City Hall to apply for the marriage license, take care of all the fees, bring you to court to get the waiver of the 3 day waiting period, take care of all the fees, and hire a Justice of the Peace to legally marry you.  You'll be completely, legally married by the time you're done, in less than a day.  

And then we'll have a big, fabulous party, planned by us, with LGBT-owned businesses and LGBT-friendly vendors in your home area (or wherever you want!)  Or you can have the big fabulous party at home first, then the legal ceremony.  Whichever order you want, wherever you want it to be, we can  make it happen beautifully, flawlessly, and legally - while keeping your dollars within the LGBT community, and having a really fun time with us.

Give us a shout for more information!

Marriage Equality Updates

It seems like every day there's news about some state attempting to ban same-sex marriage or another trying to pass it.  Some are moving forward with civil unions....  It's a lot to keep track of, so here's the latest scoop as of today (Feb 18, 2011):

The good news:

  • Hawaii - a civil unions bill passed by the House and Senate is on its way to the Governor for approval.  They would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
  • Illinois - passed civil unions earlier this month, effective as of June 1
  • Maryland - a bill to legalize gay marriage was introduced and approved by a committee of the Senate.  It still has a few steps for approval but the signs look good.
  • Rhode Island - three different bills related to same-sex marriage have been introduced (only one for full marriage equality) and hearings are underway
The bad news:

  • California - the challenge to Prop 8 is under review and a decision isn't expected until the end(!) of this year.
  • Indiana - The Indiana House approved a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions. This now goes before the Senate, and must be passed by both again next year in order to go on the ballot for voters.
  • Iowa - nearly two years after same-sex marriage was legalized in Iowa, the House voted to ban gay marriage.  This is the first step in the lengthy process which requires Senate and voter approval.
  • New Hampshire - gay marriage is currently the law (as of Jan 2010) but two separate bills are trying to end it.  There have not been any votes yet.
  • Wyoming - The Wyoming Senate narrowly voted today to stop recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions from outside the state. It currently bans them outright, but still recognizes marriages from other states. The House already passed a different version of the bill, so they now have to vote on this version before it goes to the Governor.

Next States for Gay Marriage

I'm in Phoenix this week at a conference called The Special Event Show.  I led a workshop this morning called "Traditionally, at a Gay Wedding..."  When I lead these workshops, my goal is to help people in the wedding industry around the country learn about gay culture and gay weddings so that LGBT couples have an easier time with their planning, no matter where they are.  

I think for couples, too, it's good news.  I've trained 200+ vendors in the year or so I've been leading these workshops and these vendors are super excited to work with LGBT couples.  Their enthusiasm gives me a lot of hope that the wedding industry will stop being so "bride" focused in the years to come...

Anyway, already this year there's been marriage equality legislation introduced in Rhode Island and Maryland, and because of the political shifts that occurred in those states during the last election, there's a really great chance gay marriage will come to Rhode Island and Maryland.  Also, it appears that civil unions will come to Illinois (the governor promises to sign that bill next week) and we may even see some marriage equality in New York before the year is out.  Will 14 Stories plan your gay wedding in Newport?  Heck yes, we'll be your Newport gay wedding planner.  They have the most amazing ocean-side venues.

My wife Jen is from Maryland's Eastern Shore and I have clients who are actually moving there later this year.  I can't wait to plan my first wedding in Maryland (Jen would LOVE that!) so 14 Stories will totally be your Maryland gay wedding planner!

We have big plans for 14 Stories this year (our SEVENTH year in business!), and if marriage equality does in fact come to New York, you can bet we'll be there to plan those gay weddings as well.  It's my home state.  We'd never miss that opportunity.

I know the best is yet to come for LGBT couples and you can count on us to be there every step of the way.

Where are you planning to get married?

Politicians at Gay Weddings

I'm thrilled that the DC Council has approved same-sex marriage.  The next stop is the Mayor's desk, and he has promised to sign it.  Then, if all goes well with the Mayor, Congress has the right to intervene.  Rep. Pelosi has indicated that Congress will let gay marriage go into effect.

This is great news in our nation's capitol.  I'm particularly excited because I'd love to see some Congressmen and women invited to some gay weddings.  You know what happens when people go to gay weddings, right?  

Regardless of their feeling on gay marriage in the past, or their political views, they witness a legal marriage ceremony.  Not a commitment ceremony, not a civil union, but a legal marriage.  This is a big deal, still a historical big deal because there are so few places gay marriages are possible.  And those guests at gay weddings leave and say, "wow, that was the best wedding I've ever been to." Not just because it was a beautiful wedding but because it had this amazing sense of triumph and validation.  It was a real wedding and those guests will start talking about it.

If you are an engaged gay couple in the greater DC area, what should you do?  If you are planning a legal gay wedding in DC, I urge you to invite your Congressmen or woman to the wedding.  With any luck, they'll come and there will be this giant tide of change that will sweep through Congress and overturn that awful Defense of Marriage Act.  That may sound idealistic, I know, but that's how change happens.

With any luck - but it's got to start with you.  

Heck, even if you don't live in DC, you should consider inviting your Senators or Rep.  I'm now wishing we had.

Are you planning to get married in DC when it becomes legal?

Seven Years Ago Today

Seven years ago today....

I arrived to my job at a nonprofit organization and heard the news that Massachusetts' highest court had ruled that, when it comes to marriage, it was illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.  Six months from that date, same-sex marriage was going into effect in Massachusetts.  It was SUCH a big deal, such an amazing day!  

A few months after the ruling, I decided to open It's About Time (now 14 Stories) as the first gay wedding planner in the U.S..  I can't believe I've had my business for almost 7 years!

Now we have four other states and D.C. with legal same-sex marriage.  I can't wait for the day when all of the same-sex couples in the United States have this right.  While the weddings are so much fun and totally great, and we love love love our clients - we also feel like we're part of the marriage equality movement, and that is just so exciting.

Check out the links to some great organizations that promote marriage equality nationwide:

American Foundation for Equal Rights
GLAD
Human Rights Campaign
Marriage Equality USA

Where were you seven years ago today?

Your Gay Wedding in a Church or Chapel

There is something in the air this week.  I had a wedding this past Saturday at Old South Church and heard from three other couples just this week, also interested in a church ceremony.  That's pretty unusual for me as most of my clients prefer secular ceremonies, but I'm really psyched because I absolutely love a church wedding.

Jen and I grew up Catholic and the sense of ritual and tradition that goes along with the ceremony is something that deeply resonates with both of us...

Here's an amateur photo from Saturday's wedding of the Boston Gay Men's Chorus warming up at Old South.  Why or why not would you want to have your same-sex wedding ceremony in a church?

Portia de Rossi's Changing Her Last Name - Are You?

Portia de Rossi filed paperwork to have her last name legally changed to DeGeneres to match her wife, Ellen DeGeneres.

They've been legally married for two years now.  The process of changing one's name is pretty easy if you live in a state where gay marriage is legal and you are legally married.  All you have to do is show the certified copy of your marriage certificate to the Social Security administration, then the RMV, then everywhere else.  You're golden.  

If you live in a state where gay marriage is not legal, in all likelihood, you'll have to change your name through the court system.  I actually had a couple tell me that they were denied a name change by a homophobic judge.  It's not just but that's the way it is for now, as long as DOMA stands.

Are you planning to have your name changed when you get married?

Gay Marriage Comes to Argentina

Gay marriage was just legalized in Argentina - the first country in Latin America.  This video clip sums it up well:


and the BBC has a great Q&A to help you understand the law.

Give us a minute to brush up on our Spanish, but yes, we'll travel!  :-)

Six Years Ago Today

Gay marriage first became legal in Masschusetts


Photo by Marilyn Humphries

Rights and Responsibilities of Marriage p3

We're very pleased to present the seventh in a series of articles about legal resources for same-sex couples.  Our goal is to make sure that your gay or lesbian family is protected, both as you plan your gay wedding and continue your lives together.  The article below was written by Claire Bartholome, who in addition to being an estate planning attorney, is also a client of 14 Stories.

Recognition of marriage confers hundreds of benefits applying not only to spouses, but to family and next of kin as well. With those rights, however, come responsibilities, and while we celebrate gains in equality no matter the consequences, same-sex couples should understand what true marriage “recognition” will mean for them.  Over the next few weeks I will be discussing the mixed consequences of marital recognition for same-sex couples. 

This week: rights to health insurance benefits.  While married individuals are now entitled to extend employer-based health benefits to same-sex spouses in Massachusetts, it may not always be in the couple’s best interest.   

  • Generally, employer-based health insurance, even if it requires the employee to contribute to the cost of premiums, provides a significant tax savings since the employee’s portion is purchased with pre-tax dollars.  Federal law, however, considers the amount spent on providing health insurance coverage to a same-sex spouse is taxable income, so same-sex couples often owe more in taxes than their opposite-sex counterparts.
  • There is one exception to the general rule of federal taxation. If a same-sex spouse qualifies as a “dependent” under IRS rules without regard to his or her status as a spouse, the value of the benefit to the “dependent” is not taxed as wages to the employee.  Also, in states that recognize the marriages of same-sex couples, there is no state income tax on the value of spousal health insurance benefits.
  • Some same-sex couples actually pay less overall by maintaining separate health insurance coverage either through employers or by purchasing individual plans.  In Massachusetts, individuals can compare the cost and coverage of health insurance plans online at www.mahealthconnector.org.
  • LGBT Families must also consider how to cover dependent children.  If parents maintain two separate health insurance plans, they must research the impact of adding children to either plan.  Note also that if the children were not born to one of the spouses during the marriage or if only one spouse is the children’s legal parent, the non-parent spouse will not be able to add the children to her health insurance plan.
  • If same-sex couples receive benefits through an employer-sponsored domestic partnership plan, specifically for unmarried couples, then marriage may disqualify an individual from benefits. Same-sex couples should check in advance with employers to ensure that they are covered one way or another.
 
Being treated as a married couple for the purposes of obtaining health insurance is tempered by continued discrimination on the part of the federal government and some employers.  These challenges, however, will continue to be a part of the fight for equality … for better or for worse.

Claire Bartholome is an Attorney with the Law Office of William J. Brisk.  Her practice specializes in estate planning for same-sex couples in order to combat discrimination, legal challenges, and prejudice.  This information is not intended to provide legal advice.  For information as to how the laws apply to your specific situation, consult an attorney.  www.briskelderlaw.com