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A decade of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts by the numbers

Over the last couple of years, same-sex marriage has been in the news almost constantly as the United States Supreme Court has weighed in on the topic and state lawmakers have reacted. But all of these other jurisdictions may be wise to take a look at Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage over a decade ago, for an idea of how the issues will evolve.

In those 10 years, almost 26,000 same-sex marriages have been performed in the state, about seven percent of all marriages during that same time period. Over 6,000 of these marriages were performed just in 2004 after the law was passed in May of that year. Over the decade, the numbers have evened out to about 2,200 per year, or about six percent of the marriages performed in the state. Another interesting statistic is that the number of marriages between two women has been far greater than those between two men, with almost 16,000 between women compared to about 9,900 involving men.

Regardless of the numbers, same-sex marriages still have the benefits and pitfalls of marriage between heterosexual couples. Benefits include providing the couple with legal rights that allow them to make medical and other decisions for each other and to become eligible for benefits through employers and the government which are only available to legally married couples or to survivors after the death of a spouse.

But same-sex marriages are subject to the same struggles and pressures as any other marriage: financial issues, issues of fidelity, and others. In addition, same-sex couples are subject to the still-prevalent prejudices and biases against their preferences. While Massachusetts still has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country, the numbers have increased in recent years.

Any marriage will face issues that could potentially lead to the decision to divorce. While any couple considering divorce will benefit from legal advice about the best way to proceed, same-sex couples may especially benefit from professional counsel due to the many legal issues that are still unique to their relationships. An attorney with experience with these legal issues can be helpful in making the best decision at any point in a divorce proceeding.

Source: Massachusetts Live, “Numbers show how gay marriage has fared in Massachusetts,” Steve LeBlanc, June 9, 2015

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