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What Marriage Equality in New York Means for Gay and Lesbian Couples in California

Yesterday marked a historic day in New York as the state began issuing licenses and performing marriages for same-sex couples. With this legislative decision, marriage equality has now been extended to six states and Washington, D.C., but what does this mean for gay and lesbian couples in California who want to marry now?

Since the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008, marriage in California has been limited to opposite-sex couples.  While this issue works its way through the justice system, same-sex couples in California currently have the option to register as domestic partners or travel to another state or jurisdiction where marriage between same-sex partners is legal.

Registered domestic partners in California receive many of the rights and responsibilities of married couples, including community property benefits, parental rights, and rights regarding healthcare and taxes. However, they still lack many of the federal rights granted to married couples. Thus, while couples  will have many protections within California, their relationship may not be recognized in another state.

Those who choose to marry in another state will be protected by Senate Bill 54, a law that ensures that couples who legally marry outside of California after November 5, 2008 will receive all of the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of marriage except for the name “marriage.” Therefore, the couple would maintain all of the protections of marriage, but their union would not be called “marriage.”

If you would like to discuss how marriage or a registered domestic partnership will affect you and your family, please contact the Fremont and Bay Area attorneys at Howard & Fei, LLP for a consultation at 510.464.8083. You can read more about DOMA and how it affects same sex relationships here.

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