“Where Can I Get Married?” — Part Two: The Legality

Yesterday, I answered the question, “How would it be possible to find the proper and legal church (or ceremony location)?” and focused on the aspect of finding a gay-friendly location. Today, I will elaborate a bit more on the question as it relates to finding a place for a same-sex wedding where the commitment will be legally recognized.
As many of you know, federal legislation which exists, called “DOMA” — the Defense of Marriage Act — which says that one state does not have to recognize a same-sex marriage recognized elsewhere. You can read more about it on HRC’s site. You have also probably heard about President Bush’s proclamation of support for a Constitutional Amendment that would ban gay marriage, but which is not currently, and hopefully will not ever become, law.
Even with unfavorable winds blowing from the more conservatively dominated Congress and Bush White House, gains toward equal rights for same-sex marriage have been made in the last few years. A judicial ruling and important votes in the MA state legislature have resulted in the recognition of gay marriage in Massachusetts. Civil unions remain legal in Vermont, and Connecticut recently (last weekend, in fact) approved civil unions for gay couples within its state lines. Outside of the US, gay couples have been able to celebrate new-found marriage rights in places like the UK and Canada. For more information on the latest marriage updates, I highly recommend regular checks on the summaries posted on HRC’s site.
So, when our clients write in asking where they can get legally married, it’s difficult for me to answer their questions without simply offering a general summary of the legalities pertaining to gay marriage and then leaving it up to them to decide what to do without much more guidance.
Pursuing a marriage or civil union license in another state or country will certainly serve as a wonderful adventure, token of personal commitment, and, for some, a political statement, but those rights will, in the cases of most states, not be recognized when the couple returns home. And many of the couples with whom I speak do not realize this.
Therefore, I encourage couples to design and budget for the day they would most like to enjoy as they declare their commitments in front of friends and/or family and then decide if it is reasonable to include a trip to a destination where gay marriage is legal. Some realize they can apply those travel funds to a bigger reception and some decide they’d like to bring the whole party with them for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
A Few More Things to Consider:
* Regardless of where you live, consult with a lawyer who is familiar with the laws (or lack thereof) for GLBT couples in your state and invest in having your medical health directives, wills, and more drawn up. One of our favorite firms (located in the DC area) is Scurti & Gulling.
* If you are interested in finding out how to get married in Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts or Canada, use one of the links below for more specific information.
Vermont / Connecticut / Massachusetts / Canada
* If you are looking for a piece of paper to commemorate your Big Day, consider our custom-designed wedding certificates.
How you design your ceremomy is really up to you. So, consider your options and do your thing!

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