In New York, in 2011 the legislature passed the Marriage Equality Act. This law gives same sex couples the right to get married in New York State. Under the law, out of state marriages for same sex couples are to be recognized in New York. Prior to the passage of the law, New York was, for the most part, recognizing same sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, although the law was not abundantly clear in this state. Currently, it is clear that New York State will not deny marriage license to same sex couples by reason of the couple’s genders. Furthermore, all the rights, benefits and protections that opposite sex married couples enjoy now need to be afforded to same sex married couples by New York, whether they were married here or in another jurisdiction. There is no residency requirement to be married in New York therefore out of state same sex couples that wish to get married in New York can come here to “tie the knot”. It is advisable to consult with a New York, Long Island or Nassau County Family Law Attorney if you have concerns about entering into or dissolving a same sex marriage.
The fact that New York recognizes a same sex marriage, however, does not guarantee that it will be recognized by every other state or jurisdiction. As of recent times places that recognize same sex marriages include, but may not be limited to as the laws are frequently being updated: California; Connecticut; Delaware; Iowa; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minnesota; New Hampshire; Rhode Island; Vermont; Washington; and the District of Columbia. Some states, like New Mexico, will recognize out of state same sex marriages, while other states, like New Jersey, will recognize some of benefits that out of state same sex married couples could enjoy. Most other states do not recognize same sex marriages, wherever they were performed. Whether the federal government will recognize the marriage performed in New York for couples living in jurisdictions that have not enacted marriage equality law is not always clear. Various rights that may apply to married couples, that non-married couples do not enjoy are: tax benefits; insurance; inheritance; property ownership; among other benefits.
Parental rights is another important area of law effected by same sex marriage. The spouse of a woman who gives birth to a child in wedlock will also be listed as a parent on the birth certificate whether that spouse is a man or a woman. This, however, would not preclude a paternity case involving a man, not married to the biological mother. Different rights apply to married male couples since neither of them is the birth mother or married to the birth mother. Adoptions by same sex couples is an important area of law to help solidify the parental rights over a child as well as to aid in the recognition of the parental rights by other states and jurisdictions. Continue reading