February 09, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Washington voters have acted to confirm a law legalizing same-sex marriage by way of a state referendum. As one of the 9 states that now allow same-sex marriage within its borders, Washington will have to prepare for an onslaught of same-sex marriage applicants. And, with marriage equality comes dissolution of marriage equality. Many same-sex couples married outside the state of Washington can now officially divorce in the state of Washington. The state and its residents will also grapple with the complexities of a state-sanctioned same-sex marriage system at odds with federal disenfranchisement of same-sex couples under the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.
New benefits of the law
In anticipation of the law coming into effect, Washington has begun to bring its marriage certification system up to speed. For example, marriage certificates are being amended to designate "Spouse A" and "Spouse B" rather than a bride and a groom. While the law will afford many benefits to newly married same-sex couples, perhaps the most valuable and most sought after benefit will be a legal system that comes a bit closer to granting same-sex couples equal recognition under state law. However, the situation for same-sex couples remains unbalanced at the federal level which continues to make it all the more important for same-sex couples to prepare an estate plan including wills, powers of attorneys, and health care directives.
Federal marriage benefits will still be denied under DOMA
Despite the Washington state referendum that upheld a state statute legalizing gay marriage, and despite the fact that marriage is typically an issue of state law, DOMA stands in the way of equality for same-sex couples. Specifically, same-sex couples will continue to be denied access to federal pension programs, health insurance and other government benefits that heterosexual couples receive.
DOMA defines marriage as between a man and a woman. So too does California's Proposition 8, which has received as much publicity as DOMA in recent years for its political divisiveness. Both Proposition 8 and DOMA are now being challenged on the basis of a constitutional right to marry, and the Supreme Court will soon hear that challenge. The result may very well be the assertion of a clear constitutional right to same-sex marriage, something more watered down, or no progress at all in the fight for same-sex marriage equality. The Supreme Court decision will have lasting impact on estate and gift tax implications of same-sex marriage as well as the challenges and consequences of divorce for same-sex couples.
Consult an attorney to stay abreast of these developments
The law surrounding same-sex marriage is constantly changing. To be sure, same-sex couples in Washington have won a major victory, but additional developments on the state level following the implementation of the new law are still being worked out. Developments relating to the DOMA at the Supreme Court and/or legislative level may be even more relevant with respect to achieving full equality for same-sex couples in Washington State.
Those persons affected by these new and exciting changes should consult an attorney experienced in gay and lesbian family law
, and obtain the appropriate guidance as this area of law continues to shift.
Article provided by DuBois Cary Law Group, PLLC
Visit us at www.duboislaw.net/