In an historic decision issued on June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges) that same sex couples have the right to be married in every state and that all states must recognize validly performed same sex marriages.
Although we have had marriage equality in New York State since 2011 and the Windsor decision in 2013 required the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages by declaring the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA unconstitutional, the Obergefell decision has had and will continue to have an enormous impact for same sex couples throughout the country. We are available to discuss what marriage equality means for you and how we can help you and your family (no matter how you define it) prepare for the future.
The leading LGBT organizations (American Civil Liberties Union, Freedom to Marry, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal and National Center for Lesbian Rights) offer a very useful list of Frequently Asked Questions.
While this important landmark decision opened the door for marriage for all couples who choose to marry, there remain unresolved issues. One of the chief concerns is whether a second parent or step parent adoption is still necessary for couples who have or plan to have children. Even with marriage equality, there may be significant risk of loss of parental rights for non-biological or so called non “legal” parents. LGBTQ legal advocates and lawyers across the country continue to recommend step or second parent adoptions for same sex couples who are married. There have been court cases and legal decisions declaring that marriage equality does not mean parental equality and in some instances, a married same sex partner who is not the legal or biological parent can be denied parental rights unless she or he has adopted the child.
Please contact us with any particular questions or concerns about what this decision means for you if you are parents or are thinking about having a child. If you are considering getting married, please call us to discuss a prenuptial agreement or to better understand what it means in a legal sense to marry. New York also permits postnuptial agreements so for some people, who marry first and then decide they may want to memorialize their legal and financial arrangements and agreements, this is an excellent idea and can be accomplished.