Washington State became the seventh U.S. state (plus D.C.) to legalize gay marriage on Monday when Governor Gregoire signed the marriage equality bill into law. This is very exciting but you may want to hold off on your gay wedding plans for a little bit longer. Opponents of marriage equality still may try to stop it from going into effect on June 7 - so the matter is not yet settled - but this is a huge step forward. Congratulations!
It's super exciting that the Pentagon will now let military chaplains officiate gay marriage ceremonies. This is in light of the recent repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
We have worked with many couples who are former or current military. In fact, one of our brides who was married last Saturday was a manager at an Air Force base in Afghanistan, and would have loved to have the option of being married by a military chaplain.
So, because we dream in logistics, some important considerations if you are interested in being married by a military chaplain:
1. First off, the chaplain has the right to say no, that he or she is not comfortable officiating the ceremony or if it goes against his or her personal or religious beliefs. So not all chaplains are an option for you.
2. The ceremony must be legal and you must live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. Military chaplains are only allowed to perform legal marriage ceremonies for couples who live in states where a legal ceremony is an option.
3. The ceremony must be on a military base.
Is this something you would consider for your marriage?
The couple just sued the inn, because they learned that Vermont has an anti-discrimination law making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. 21 U.S. states have such a law and 29 do not. That means that in states such as Georgia, Florida and Texas, it's perfectly legal for a business to discriminate against you of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. To find out the deal in your state, click here or call the Lambda Legal help desk.
Why should you care? Well, you may be gay wedding planning in New York or elsewhere and it's important to know your rights. A New York town clerk already resigned rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The law in New York barely passed. And while New York City is very progressive and great for gay wedding planning, it's a BIG state and you should be careful when you're planning your gay wedding.
Come out of the closet right away when calling vendors - even the ones you find through an online gay wedding directory or through google ads. You never know who will answer the phone. Only hire people who give you a good vibe, who you feel like will have your back. There's no reason that you should be treated any differently than straight couples.
Have you encountered any issues when calling vendors during your wedding planning?
Now that same-sex marriage is legal in New York, I think it's time to revisit this important topic. Ron Meyers will be the attorney to whom we refer our New York gay wedding clients. Ron has been helping LGBT couples protect their families for more than 10 years.
Here are the top five ways to protect your LGBT family:
1. Health Care Proxies - so you can visit your spouse or partner in the hospital when you are in a state where same-sex marriage is not recognized.
2. Durable Power of Attorney - so you can make decisions on behalf of your partner or spouse beyond state lines when you are in a state where same-sex marriage is not recognized.
3. Wills - to define your family and protect your assets should one of you pass
4. Trusts - used as an alternative to a will, so your estate can be handled privately, rather than in court, should one of you pass and have family who does not support your same-sex marriage or relationship.
5. Second parent adoption - if you have a child, so both parents have legal guardianship to the child or children if you are in a state where same-sex marriage is not recognized.
Both Claire and Ron can help with all of these five ways to protect your family and I enthusiastically encourage you to give them a call!
Photo by Gretje Ferguson
When does gay marriage go into effect in New York?
The law goes into effect on July 24 but that date is a Sunday. The New York City marriage bureau will be open on Sunday to accept applications and judges will be on hand to waive the 24 hour waiting period to marry, and also to officiate ceremonies on that same day, July 24. Binghamton and Syracuse city halls will also be open on the 24th. It is unclear whether those cities will have judges on hand to waive the 24 hour wait and perform ceremonies.
To the best of our knowledge, only New York City is making it possible for couples to legally marry on July 24. Couples looking to marry in other parts of the state can begin having marriage ceremonies on July 26, 2011.
Do I have to live in New York to get married there?
No, anyone can apply for a marriage license in New York State. There is no residency requirement but you must be unmarried and 18 years or older.Where can I apply for a marriage license?
You can apply at any city or town clerk's office in the state of New York. Both partners must be present. Couples can apply online through the City of New York as early as July 5. Couples who apply in person can apply beginning Monday, July 25.
Is a blood test required?
Is there a waiting period to get the marriage license?
There is not a waiting period to get the license - you receive it right away.
How soon after applying for a license can I get legally married?
24 hours or more.
Are there witnesses required in order to get legally married?
One witness 18 or older is required.
How much is the marriage license application fee?
Outside of New York City, the fee is $40. In NYC, the fee is $35.
How long is the marriage license valid for?
Can I apply online for a marriage license?
Yes, you can, in New York City, but both partners must still go in person to pick up the marriage license.
What paperwork is required when I apply for my marriage license?
This varies by the city or town in which you apply. In New York City, you can bring a driver's license or passport and be fine. Elsewhere you may be asked for two things: Either a birth certificate OR a baptismal record OR a naturalization record OR a Census record AND a driver's license OR a passport OR a work ID with photo OR an immigration record.Who can officiate the marriage ceremony?
The mayor of a city or village; the former mayor, city clerk, or deputy city clerk of a city with 1 million+ residents; a marriage officer appointed by the town or village board; a justice or judge; a village, town or county justice; a member of the clergy authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.
If I don't live in New York, will my marriage be recognized by my home state?
It depends on where you live, but in most cases, probably not. It will be recognized in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Iowa, California, New Mexico, Maryland and D.C.
Is my New York gay marriage recognized by the U.S. federal government?
Unfortunately, no it is not.
If I get legally married in New York, will I still need special legal paperwork to protect my family?
Yes, if you plan to travel with your partner beyond New York state, it will be necessary for you to hire an attorney to draw up paperwork to protect your family in case something happens in a state where your marriage is not recognized. You will need a Health Care Proxy, a Durable Power of Attorney and a will or trust.
How do I change my name?
You'll be asked your new last name on the marriage application. Once you receive your official copy of your marriage license, you can use that document to change your name on social security card, driver's license etc, if you live in the state of New York. If you live out of state, and in a state where your marriage is not legally recognized, it's much harder and will, in most cases, require a judge's order.
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
- 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.
Since this ruling has been appealed and will likely reach the U.S. Supreme Court, many LGBT individuals fear that the timing is not right and the U.S. Supreme Court will vote unfavorably. That remains to be seen but I for one, am thrilled that marriage equality won round one in this Prop 8 case.
So, what does this mean right now? Currently there is a "stay" on the ruling which means that same-sex marriages have not resumed in California. Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown, among others, have both submitted motions to have those marriages resume. We're waiting to see what happens and hoping for the best!
I'm currently working with four couples from California on their wedding plans in Massachusetts. What are your plans and how will this ruling affect them?
Photo by Marilyn Humphries
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