Everything but marriage faces changes in 2012

Massachusetts is one of the six states that currently recognize marriage between same-sex couples as legal, but gay rights activists claim progress is far from here. The news the year has been ripe with the trials and tribulations all couples face when going through a divorce, same-sex couples have not been excluded from these hurdles. With the privilege of marriage, couples face the possibility of divorce — regardless of the gender of the couple.

Same-sex couples now are encountered the legal fallout of trying to obtain a divorce in states that do not recognize their marriage as legal. This has caused difficulty in obtaining fair property division. Not to mention, trying to come up with a parenting plan between the couple when only one of the parents is the biological parent and there is an issue of custody to begin during the couple’s impending split.

Now, there is buzz in the state of Washington that it may become the seventh state to recognize same-sex marriage, but in order for this to happen there is an uphill legislative battle to climb. While Washington appears to have strong public support to legalize gay marriage, support in the legislature is what is required in order for this legislation to pass.

Two years ago, Washington voters backed legal rights for same-sex couples. The legislation nicknamed the proposal the “everything but marriage” passage. Essentially this means Washington recognizes rights for same-sex couples such as prohibiting discrimination against gays in employment and housing issues, as well as lending and insurance matters. That passage began in 2006 and was updated two years ago to honor rights that include “everything but marriage”.

Leaders of Washington United for Marriage will be pressuring the Legislature soon to see a marriage equality law passed in 2012. They will begin with a news conference, and follow it with a series of town hall meetings. But opponents are ready for this, and say that despite the public support of gay marriage, changing the definition of marriage is something that many lawmakers are just not ready for. A Republican Senator from Rochester only gives them about a 50-50 chance of seeing this happen.

In addition to Massachusetts, the other states in the Union that honor gay marriage as a legal entity are almost exclusively on the Eastern Seaboard; New York and Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire, as well as the District of Columbia and Iowa. It is clear to see the American family is evolving, so it would only make sense that the legislative process regarding the concept of marriage, family and divorce, would as well.

Source: The Seattle Times, “New effort to legalize same-sex marriage begins,” Jim Brunner, Nov. 12, 2011

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