Marriage Compared to Civil Unions
Where Can I Go to Marry My Same-Sex Partner?
Currently, Massachusetts is the only state in the nation where same-sex marriage is legal. However, you must be a resident of Massachusetts to marry there. Multnomah County, in Oregon (which includes Portland), also currently allows same-sex marriage. The governments in Oregon and Massachusetts are still debating the issue, and so it is possible that the marriages performed in these places may eventually be invalidated.
Some states offer state-level benefits to same-sex couples. These include Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusettes, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. Several other states are contemplating same-sex marriage legislation.
What is Marriage?
Wholly apart from its moral or religious significance, marriage is simply a legal status that is given to a couple by a state government. While it is issued by the government of a specific state, the status of marriage is recognized by all states and nations the world over. Getting married brings with it numerous rights, protections and obligations at both the state and federal level for both people.
What is a Civil Union?
A civil union is a legal status that provides protection to couples (either same-sex or heterosexual) at only the state level. Federal protections such as tax and social security benefits are unavailable to the civilly united. States that have civil union laws or similar laws include Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
What is Domestic Partnership?
A few states and cities have adopted "domestic partnerships" as a way to give some marriage rights to same-sex couples. However, not all the rights given by marriage are the same for a domestic partnership. For example, in New Jersey, if a domestic partner buys property, the property is held solely by that individual instead of jointly by the partners as it would be in marriage.
What are the differences between marriage and civil unions?
There are significant differences between the benefits and responsibilities of marriage and civil unions. People who are married usually enjoy more benefits than those in civil unions, including:
- Legal recognition of the relationship in other states
- The ability to divorce in any state, regardless of where married
- Tax benefits available to married couples only
- Immigration benefits when petitioning for a non-citizen spouse
- Federal benefits, such as medical and life insurance
My State Doesn't Allow Same-Sex Marriage or Civil Union - What are My Options for Protecting my Partner and Family?
There are several options for same-sex couples who cannot legally gain the benefits and protections of married persons. These include:
- Second parent adoption of your children
- Creating power of attorney in your partner
- Crafting a durable and specific will
- Planning your estate carefully
- Creating medical power of attorney in your partner
Do I Need an Attorney to Protect my Family and Partner By the above Options?
Because of the complexity and wide variation of these legal processes, consultation with a family lawyer in your city or state would be of immeasurable benefit. A lawyer can explain all your options and help you understand what types of legal strategies are right for you and your family.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 07-20-2012 01:57 PM PDT