My assistant passed along an article published in the
November 19, 2001 November 20, 2011 edition of the New Britain Herald that discusses the issues faced by same-sex couples who are married in Connecticut. Reporter Brenda Maguire did a wonderful job researching the statistics and collecting anecdotes from same-sex couples in the state.
According to Maguire:
“Three years after the court ruling, there have been 5,929 same-sex weddings performed in Connecticut, as of the first of this month. Bristol has issued 56 same-sex marriage licenses and New Britain 35. But as the number of licenses mount, so do frustrations over inconsistencies between Connecticut law and those laws observed both federally and in other states. Gay couples, for instance, contend with a federal tax system that doesn’t recognize their union.”
One couple, interviewed for the article, stated that their Connecticut marriage helped them in that when their daughter was born, they did not have to do a 2nd parent adoption because both of their names are on the birth certificate. Unfortunately, that is only partially true. I had a nice conservation with Maguire to explain the discrepancy believed by that couple (and many other same-sex couples) who are married in this state.
I have blogged on this topic more than once in this space. Read some of the posts here and here and here and here. Most recently, I posted on a publication authored by GLAD (Gay Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) that states:
“State law—and not federal law—determines who is a parent and each state has its own set of laws. And even people joined in marriage, civil union or domestic partnership (in states where these statuses are available) need to take additional steps to protect their children because those statuses could change and also may not be recognized in other states.
- In states where second parent adoption or parentage judgments are available, all non-biological parents should take one of these steps. This is the best way to ensure that you will be recognized as a parent nationwide.
- If you cannot adopt or get a parentage judgment it may be possible for you to do a co-guardianship or parenting agreement through the courts.
- If you cannot adopt or get a parentage judgment, you should:
- Be sure the biological or adoptive parent writes a will naming you as guardian for the child in the event of the parent’s death.
- Be sure the biological or adoptive parent signs an authorization for you to consent to medical care.
- Enter into a written agreement clarifying your intention to jointly parent your children.”
It is critically important to remember that even though the non-biological parent can place her name on the child’s birth certificate, the status as parent may not be recognized by all states or foreign countries. The overall cost of step-parent adoption in Connecticut is low; it is not as costly as adopting a child through an agency, as most people fear.
The only way to become the legal step-parent to your spouse’s biological child for purposes of federal recognition (such as social security benefits and some insurance plans) is to go through with the step-parent adoption. In emergency medical situations involving your child, it is critical if you are in a state that doesn’t recognize your marriage.
For information about the step-parent and co-parent adoption process on my website, click here. There is also a complimentary brochure on the subject available on the Legal Guides page of this blog here (there is also a link to the brochure from my website).
To read Brenda Maguire’s well-written article titled “Three years after legalizing same-sex marriage, gay couples in Conn. still face legal, tax issues and a lack of federal recognition” click here.
One final note: lesbian and gay couples who are married in Connecticut (or another state) should also be mindful that state-specific protections, such as the right to visit one’s spouse in the Intensive Care Unit or the right to claim your spouse’s bodily remains upon death may not be recognized by all states or foreign countries. There are documents of protection that can be drafted for you by an attorney to cover those specific situations. To read more about it, visit the section of my website on the topic by clicking here. Be sure to check out my blog archives for additional posts on this sensitive subject. There is also a complimentary brochure on the subject available on the Legal Guides page of my blog here.
The bottom line is that you should not assume that your marriage gives you all the rights and protections of spouses in every state or foreign country. When in doubt, have a conversation with an attorney knowledgeable in lesbian and gay law.
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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.
copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski