by Rob Lee
Marriage Rights Not Equal For Same-Sex Partners
To be sure, more states are making same-sex marriages legal. However, the fact of the matter is most states still don’t acknowledge same-sex marriages. Even states that have legalized these unions are subject to the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which restricts the rights of gay and lesbian couples that want to get married and divorced.
There are certainly many issues same-sex couples need to be educated about when it comes to marriage and divorce. However, a good starting point is to focus on several areas that may very well have harsh impacts on members of same-sex marriages. Immigration status, military matters and federal income tax returns are areas to watch for, as well as artificial insemination and adoption.
Immigration issues are often overlooked, but with the hyperfocus on this topic in the United States in recent years, it’s vital to understand the law. Gay or lesbian immigrants seeking protection based on a same-sex marriage could meet with unwanted results. Same-sex couples who apply for an adjustment in immigration status based on their marriage could see a potential nightmare by way of the immigrant spouse getting deported.
Military matters are yet another important issue. Same-sex partners who serve in the military need to understand that entering into a same-sex marriage violates the “don’t ask, don’t tell law.” That violation is grounds for discharge.
Gay and lesbian partners also need to exercise caution with the possible consequences of their marriage if they are trying to adopt a child from a country that doesn’t accept same-sex marriages. What’s more, the status of certain parental rights from techniques like artificial insemination are not settled in Connecticut or other states.
IRS issues will not be ignored. You need to consider the tax issues same-sex couples deal with and how different they are from the tax rights of traditional marriage partners. Same-sex married couples, for example, can legally file a joint Connecticut tax return. However, they are not allowed to file a joint federal return.
Of course, these are but a few of the issues same-sex couples who wish to marry and divorce must consider at some point in their relationship. Addressing them early is advisable because failure to understand the ramifications of the law could lead to negative outcomes. If you are planning a same-sex marriage or same-sex divorce, contact a legal expert and/or accountant with experience working through these issues so you don’t come across any unwanted surprises.
Hilary B. Miller is a prominent Connecticut attorney on the cutting edge of same-sex marriage and divorce issues. Miller is also active in pro bono litigation of AIDS-related claims, including family, employment and insurance matters. He graduated from Fordham University School of Law and is admitted to the Connecticut, New York and District of Columbia bars. If you need expert advice on same-sex marriages, visit Miller’s family-law web site at www.ct-divorce.com.