Same-Sex Marriage in Massachusetts

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Legally Recognized Same-Sex Partnerships

In the U.S., there are a few categories of legally recognized same-sex partnerships that are determined by individual states.

A minority of states, including Massachusetts, perform and recognize same-sex marriages. Other states have a separate category of legal unions for same-sex couples, which provide essentially all of the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage. In effect, the main difference is these partnerships drop the traditional “marriage” label, and instead go by the name of “civil union” or “domestic partnership.”

The majority of states in the U.S. still do not legally recognize any form of same-sex union.

Same-Sex Marriage in Massachusetts

In 2003, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to perform a same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled that denying marriage rights to same-sex couples violated the equal protection clause in that state’s constitution.

Immediately thereafter, some organizations attempted to amend the state constitution to explicitly define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but all of those attempts failed. Since passing, well over 8,000 same-sex marriages have been performed in over 6 years.

Accordingly, same-sex couples that get married in Massachusetts have the exact same rights under state law as opposite-sex married couples.

Massachusetts Same-Sex Marriages and Federal Law

Initially, there was one major problem for same-sex couples who were married in any state. The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law in 1996 by President Clinton, prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, or any other legal union for same-sex couples, performed by the states.

In 2013, the United States Supreme Court declared DOMA unconstitutional. As a result, married homosexual couples can now receive federal benefits, including:

Do I Need a Massachusetts Attorney?

The legal status of same-sex marriages remains in a state of flux. If you have questions about your rights ot the rights of your partner, it might be helpful for you to contact an experienced family law attorney in Massachusetts.

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Last Modified: 06-20-2014 11:51 AM PDT

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