gay marriage

With the announcement of last week’s Supreme Court decision, proponents of same sex marriage rejoiced and Facebook became much more colorful. After a weekend of celebrating the new-found rights of my gay and lesbian friends, neighbors and colleagues, I sat down today to read all 103 pages of the majority decision and dissenting opinions, including a particularly “colorful” dissent from Justice Scalia.

How did this issue get to the Supreme Court?Keep reading

Will freedom ring soon?
Let freedom ring!

Hi there,

There have been rumors for months that the Supreme Court was going to make a final decision about how America will handle gay marriage.

As of today, I’m thrilled to report that gay marriage is now the law of the land!

For the couples around the country who have waited for years to make their unions legally official, for their children, for all of us who champion equality – this is so good on so many levels.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of today’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States, said it best.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.  In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.  As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.  It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.  Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.  Their hope is not to be condemned to live

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Ten Years After Goodridge, Gay Marriage is Here to Stay

Hi there,

Until I got online last night I hadn’t realized that we are ten years out from the Goodridge decision. I can still remember where I was when I read it back in 2003, and it was the only time I had ever cried (I was so moved by the language) when reading a decision. It wasn’t until last night that I realized Peter Zupcofska, my partner in the Private Client Group here, had written an amicus brief on behalf of Goodridge.

In the 10 years since Goodridge, gay marriage has become woven into the social fabric of Massachusetts. Initially due to DOMA, the legal process of both gay marriage and gay divorce was extremely complicated.

Over the course of time other states joined Massachusetts, some not allowing gay marriage but allowing gay divorce of couples legally married in another state.

This past June, DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court. Since then, gay divorce, at least in Massachusetts and the other states that allow gay marriage/divorce has become simpler, cleaner and more straightforward.

Currently gay marriage is also in the gossip news as the Cheney family seems to be enmeshed … Keep reading

U.S. Supreme Court Declares DOMA Unconstitutional: What You Need to Know

Hi there,

What an exciting week!  I’m pleased to share the following alert regarding DOMA that my colleagues Lisa Cukier, Christine Fletcher and Peter Zupcofska put together today for clients and friends of our firm.  As we celebrate the fall of DOMA there are still lots of legal issues facing gay and lesbian couples in the states that don’t recognize gay marriage.

Best,

Nancy

U.S. Supreme Court Declares DOMA Unconstitutional: What You Need to Know

Yesterday in a historic decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by declaring it unconstitutional. In the case, United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples living in the states that recognize their marriage are entitled to receive the same federal benefits as any other married couple in those states.This important ruling has myriad implications and touches upon many areas of law affecting same-sex couples across the country. For example, estate plans for same-sex couples were previously drafted to take advantage of benefits available within the 13 states and the District of Columbia that recognize same-sex marriage; nevertheless, estate plans had to be drafted around DOMA, which denied … Keep reading

Applying for Social Security Survivor’s Benefits During the DOMA Appeal

Hi there,

The Supreme Court announces today whether or not they are going to take up a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act in a case arising out of Social Security benefits. As promised, here is a different point of view to last week’s post.  This one is authored by my partner Lisa Cukier, one of our experts in the intricacies of gay and lesbian divorce.

Best,

Nancy

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was passed in 1996, denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples.  DOMA denies the existence of same-sex marriages by stating that marriages may only be between one man and one woman. Consequently, the federal government is allowed to deny gay spouses certain marriage-based advantages that straight spouses routinely and unquestionably receive, such as tax advantages, health and retirement benefits, Veteran’s benefits, Social Security Administration benefits and other federally based advantages, thus treating gay married Americans as second class citizens.

Social Security benefits, such as survivor’s benefits that permit a widow to receive her deceased spouse’s Social Security after her spouse’s death, are one such federal benefit. Gay widows and widowers are ineligible for their late spouse’s Social Security simply because they … Keep reading

Hi there,

If you read this blog I am sure you already guessed that I was thrilled to hear that the Federal Court has found California’s Prop 8 (the vote that overturned gay marriage in California) unconstitutional. There is still a long, long way to go, but this is a terrific decision in my book.

A question that often comes up in divorces is what happens to the engagement ring.  Once you are married it clearly is a gift that belongs to the spouse who wore it. However if it was a family piece it can sometimes go back to the giftor.  It’s value is included in the division of assets.  David Clement, who writes the terrific New York Divorce Blog, had a recent post on this. Jewelry is generally worth only about a third of the purchase price so that can be a shock.  Often someone will need to sell the ring for legal fees, or simply because the memories are bad.  A colleague just sent me a link to what looks like a terrific site if you wish to sell.

Best,

Nancy… Keep reading

Hi there,

Since we learned yesterday that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is filing a law suit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), speculations have been flying about what this means and what will happen. The lawsuit questions the constitutionality of Section 3 of the law, which defines the word "marriage" as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."

Why?
We just celebrated the 5 year anniversary of allowing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Since then, at least 4 other states (Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Iowa) have legalized gay marriage. Even though gay marriage is recognized in these states, it is still not recognized at the federal level.  This causes problems on many levels – taxes and adoption of children to name just two. According to the Boston Globe, “The suit filed in US District Court in Boston claims that the Congress, in enacting the DOMA, ‘overstepped its authority, undermined states’ efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards gay and lesbian people.’”

Issues
Gay and lesbian married couples struggle with very different tax treatment as the federal government, the main taxing authority, doesn’t recognize gay marriage due … Keep reading

Hi there,

It is exciting to see the New England states recognizing the fairness of allowing gay folks to marry. It is a huge step and where people can marry they also inevitably will pay taxes and some of them will later divorce.  In these areas much inequity still remains.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) impacts the income tax and divorce tax status of gay couples regardless of whether or not they are legally married.

They cannot file federal income taxes as married filing jointly; when, and if, they divorce any transfers of property between them are taxable events, as they are not for heterosexual couples, and there is no deduction for alimony.

All of these are costly, but still it is terrific to have another state recognize gay marriage.

Best,

Nancy… Keep reading