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Marriage - One Door Open



MARRIAGE - ONE DOOR OPEN

This article has been published with the permission of the author, Derek J. Cordier, Esquire.  Visit Derek J. Cordier online at http://gaymarriagelawyers.com/Pennsylvania.htm

By Derek J. Cordier, Esquire
319 South Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17104
phone (717) 919-4002
fax (717) 213-4984

It seems everyone is talking about "the summer of gay love" - well at least in Massachusetts they are.  So what does all this marriage talk mean for committed lesbian and gay relationships here in Pennsylvania - nothing legally, but at least morally, one door has opened with only 49 to go.

 Here in Pennsylvania, since we are one of the 38 states with Defense of Marriage Act Legislation, no lesbian or gay marriage, performed in Massachusetts or elsewhwere, will be recognized.  Therefore, no Pennsylvania court will treat you as married and you will be unable to get a divorce.  In fact, even in Massachusetts and Vermont you have to establish residency to obtain a divorce.    

Canada allows lesbians and gays from the US to be married there and recognizes such unions.  Vermont allows out-of-staters to obtain civil unions.  There was not a residency requirement for marrying in Massachusetts until the Massachusetts Governor, by use of his executive powers "resurrected" a 1913 law, which assets that no out-of-state marriage may take place if the marriage would be void in the home state.  Clearly, this is a discriminatory action that will be fought out in the courts. 

 

Some cities and towns in Massachusetts were issuing licenses in violation of the Governor's order, but that process has stopped.  For the near future only Massachusetts residents may be married.  Residency in Massachusetts can be shown by documentary evidence, such as a utility bill, bank statement, driver's license, voter registration, lease, etc.  How much evidence is necessary is up to the Clerk of the city or town.

There are over 1500 federal, and over 600 Pennsylvania State, rights and privileges conferred upon married couples that lesbian and gay couples do not share.  Some of the most important rights lesbian and gay couples are excluded from include, hospital visitation, Social Security benefits, health insurance, estate taxes, inheritance rights, retirement savings such as 401(k)s and IRAs, family leave, home ownership protections for the elderly in need of nursing home care, pensions, and the rights and responsibilities as to children.   

Even in Massachusetts, some of these protections, such as health insurance may be problematic, since many times corporations decide who qualifies for those benefits.

Also, because of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, lesbian and gay couples in Massachusetts are not entitled to Federal Benefits such as filing joint tax returns or Social Security survivor benefits.  Social Security survivor benefits alone result in an average of over $5,500.00 income loss upon the death of a partner.  Lesbian and gay insurance costs are higher because married couples pay less.  Shouldn't we get a refund for all of the benefits that we have to pay for married couples?

Presently, the most a Pennsylvania lesbian or gay couple can do to protect their rights is to have Wills, Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Finances, and if necessary, a Cohabitation Agreement.  All of those documents are legally recognized and enforceable here in Pennsylvania.  The only other action we as a group can do to advance the cause of equality is to vote.  If you are lesbian or gay and do not exercise your right to vote in the coming election, you lose your right to complain when the door is closed.    

This article has been published with the permission of the author, Derek J. Cordier, Esquire.  Visit Derek J. Cordier online at http://gaymarriagelawyers.com/Pennsylvania.htm

By Derek J. Cordier, Esquire
319 South Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17104
phone (717) 919-4002
fax (717) 213-4984