Marriage in another state: In the wake of the Supreme Court’s momentous Prop 8 and DOMA decisions, many questions have been raised for gay and lesbian couples in California. One of these questions is if a gay and lesbian couples was legally married in another state, must the couple now get re-married in California?
The short answer is “No.”
California law states that if a same-sex couples was validly married under the laws of the state where the marriage occurred, then the couple is considered to have all the same “rights, protections, and benefits” and the same “responsibilities, obligations, and duties” as any married couple. The big exception, due to Prop 8, was that same-sex couples could were not found to have entered into a “marriage.” (See California Family Code Sect. 308(c)).
So, while you and your other-half may not be “married” in California, you are being afforded all the same rights and have all the same obligations as if you were “married”—at least under state law. The difference really boiled down to the state government’s use of the term “marriage.” Until this law is changed through the legislative or judicial process or through executive decree, it remains unclear how out-of-state “marriages” will now be treated and if they will now be fully recognized in the state of California. The law and the effects of the Supreme Court decision are still developing.
Domestic Partnership: What if you and your partner entered a domestic partnership? If you entered a domestic partnership in California, your status will remain as domestic partners. Domestic partnerships are recognized at the state level, but they are not legally recognized at the federal level. Therefore, while domestic partnerships have state-level rights and responsibilities, they do not have the same federal rights and responsibilities that come with marriage. As such, you may want to consider getting married so that you avail yourself of these federal benefits. Before you do so, you should educate yourself about the differences between domestic partnership and marriage. While there are many legal similarities between the two contracts, there are some key differences as well, such as federal tax consequences. Neither contract should not be entered lightly.
Follow my blog for future posts regarding additional developments and information about the “rights” and “responsibilities” that marriage brings. The Law Office of Sean C. Sobottka is available for a consultation before doing so. Whatever your needs, contact us: 310.735.9814 or email@example.com.