It is incredible to note that same-sex marriage is now legal in New York and in every state in the United States. This is a relatively recent change. But it is a result of decades of work that has gone into advancing the civil rights of gays, lesbians, and transgender people in America.
New York State has been a leader in the fight for equal rights for gays and lesbians for decades. In 1969, we saw the start of a new era: a stronger, more unified push for legislation that protects gay rights.
All these struggles were worth it in the end, but as the years went on, more prominent and more important movements emerged and organized in different ways to push for marriage equality for gays and lesbians in state legislatures around the nation.
June 26, 2011, saw the passage of New York’s first-ever gay marriage bill in the state legislature. The state Senate and House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, which legalized same-sex marriage in the nation’s most populous state. The vote marked the first step toward gay marriage in New York since the Stonewall riots, which occurred 42 years ago.
With this development, it will be in the interest of same-sex couples to get familiar with the laws that protect their rights and ensure marriage equality. A matrimonial attorney in Queens can walk you through some of these rights.
To understand the rights of same-sex couples in New York, we shall present some valuable information.
Why Make Same-Sex Marriage Legal
Not only do lesbian and gay couples lose their social and religious importance, but they also suffer serious, sometimes even tragic, practical consequences. Since they are unable to marry, gay and lesbian couples will not be seen as related to each other. They can’t receive critical medical advice.
They can’t receive leave to care for one another. They can also not become each other’s heirs (especially if there is no will). Marriage is often the basis on which employers base their health insurance, retirement benefits, and many other benefits.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) argues that “because we have attached such great importance to the institution of marriage, the denial of marriage to lesbian and gay couples constitutes an infringement of equal protection before the law.”
Consult a matrimonial attorney in Queens to get more info supporting same-sex marriages.
How Same-Sex Marriage Became Legal In New York
Before same-sex marriage became legal in New York State, there was a constant cry for tolerance and tolerance for sexual diversity. Much of this cry came from the various gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights groups in many states.
This led to the passage of the SONDA Act on January 16, 2003. The SONDA Act made it illegal for any person in New York to discriminate based on sexual orientation. This was in employment, housing, education, and more. This law was not, however, an anti-LGBT discrimination law.
This is why there were many calls for equal protection for LGBT people. In 2009, the then Governor signed an executive order which made gender identity discrimination illegal. In July 2011, the state legislature finally passed the Marriage Equality Act.
This Act made same-sex marriage legal in New York. County officials have since started to issue marriage licenses and conduct civil marriage ceremonies. Then, in July 2012, the DASA took effect. The DASA aims to protect students from discrimination.
This includes discrimination arising from sexual orientation or gender identity. It also protects LGBT from other forms of bullying and harassment. This was almost a year after same-sex marriage became legal in New York. You can learn more about the Marriage Equality Act and DASA with a matrimonial attorney in Queens.
Same-Sex Couples’ Benefits
Marriage creates a framework for family matters, such as parental rights, inheritances, taxes, etc. This framework provides advantages to the parties to the marriage. Now, there is no distinction between same-sex marriage and other marriages. Everyone wants the same benefits and marriage rights.
Same-sex married couples in New York have the same legal rights, obligations, and privileges as opposite-sex married couples. Some of these rights and benefits are:
1. Children’s rights.
Previously, marriages followed the usual way of creating a family. Marriage provided stability for all involved, including children. In the past, there were many barriers to forming gay families. LGBT couples often do not have the same parental rights as heterosexual parents due to their marriage status.
But with the changes in the law, the marital status of LGBT couples has now received approval. This new marital status also affects child custody and visitation rights. This new marriage status also means that you are considered a non-biological parent but have all the same rights and responsibilities as a biological parent.
Same-sex couples can adopt to obtain legal parental custody. No state can deny adoption to a married LGBTQ couple.
2. Immigration rights.
One of the ways to become a citizen of the United States is through legal marriage. Even same-sex couples who were legally married did not have access to citizenship under DOMA. Same-sex marriage and opposite-sex marriage are now protected under federal law. Contact a matrimonial attorney in Queens to get citizenship through marriage.
3. Benefits provided by government.
Some government benefits are only available to married couples. Social Security, Medicare, and paid family leave are just some benefits for married couples. Same-sex couples are entitled to federal and state benefits.
The benefits of social security for same-sex married couples are considerable. Same-sex spouses receive survivor benefits in the event of one spouse’s death. They also get retirement benefits based on their spouse’s retirement benefit. They are considered dependents in the event of the disability of a spouse.
4. Right to joint ownership of property.
Generally, property rights are assumed to be owned jointly during marriage. However, this is different for unmarried couples. In the case of unmarried couples, the property belongs to the individual who acquires it. Legalizing marriage also allows same-sex couples to benefit from these property rights.
Other rights and benefits.
The government recognizes other benefits to marriage, such as lower taxes and the ability to make important health decisions for your spouse. Here are a few:
- Taxes can also be filed jointly by married couples. Filing together can significantly reduce a couple’s tax bill in some situations, mainly when only one spouse works.
- Upon the death of a spouse, the surviving spouse has the right to inherit the assets of the deceased partner (i.e., accumulated wealth, investments, real estate, etc.) without incurring any estate or gift tax.
- Married partners can make important decisions about their spouse’s medical care. For instance, a spouse has the right to decide on medical care for a disabled spouse who can’t make decisions for themselves.
- In some cases, employers may limit family benefits to married couples only. This restriction may prevent unmarried employees (including same-sex couples who wish to marry but cannot do so) from filing for employer-sponsored family health plans or from taking family leave to care for a spouse who is ill. But with the law change, married same-sex couples can enjoy employment-related benefits.
- In the event of a death, a spouse has the right to make a funeral or other final arrangements for the body. No one legally owns a body. Still, spouses are often given the legal right to decide what happens to them.
- Couples who are same-sex can also go through the ordinary divorce process. It helps divide assets and resolve custody matters when one partner files for divorce.
- Family rates can be applied to health insurance plans in the individual market and the Obamacare exchanges. On the exchanges, married couples who are low or middle-income earners can take advantage of federal tax credits that help pay for their premiums.
- Same-sex couples may have intimate conversations during the marriage. The government can’t force them to disclose it.
- Couples who are married have visitation rights. This includes visits to facilities that restrict visitation to immediate family members. These are places like jails, prisons, and nursing homes.
There are many more rights same-sex couples can enjoy upon getting married. To avoid discrimination and deprivation of your rights, you should retain a matrimonial attorney in Queens.
The rights and obligations of same-sex marriage are the same as those of a heterosexual marriage. However, not many same-sex couples are aware of their rights because the law in this area is still evolving. You don’t have to be confused or expose yourself to discrimination and harassment because of your gender identity or sexual orientation.
At Gehi and Associates, we can help you fight to protect your rights. If you are unsure about your rights as a same-sex couple, talk to one of our knowledgeable matrimonial attorneys in Queens today.