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gay marriage

Massachusetts hopes gay marriage rights will spread

Going through a divorce can be difficult for any couple that wishes to no longer be married. The process can at times be drawn-out and stressful, depending on the circumstances of the situation. For individuals involved in a gay marriage situation, their wish to divorce can become even more difficult if they live in a state where their marriage is not recognized as legal. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, and now, representatives in the state hope to keep the pro-gay marriage movement going. A brief was recently filed with the United States Supreme Court, in hopes that the court system will look at several cases regarding whether state bans on same-sex marriage should be considered unconstitutional. Many individuals who are advocating that same-sex marriage be legalized in other areas argue that not allowing the marriages is a violation of the 14th Amendment. It was also reported that the legalization of the unions in Massachusetts has had a beneficial impact on families and marriage itself. Unfortunately, individuals who live and marry in the state may feel that they are unable to move to certain other states due to same-sex marriage not being legal in those areas. Should they move to one of those states, they may be unable to qualify for certain benefits or even be unable to divorce if they should wish to do so. Though same-sex couples in Massachusetts have the ability to legally participate in gay marriage, the topic of other states overturning the

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Non-traditional couples in Massachusetts offered USAA insurance

Affordable, reliable insurance can be difficult to acquire in Massachusetts and elsewhere and, as such, is a benefit that is worth fighting for. Widows and widowers who were in legally-recognized, same-sex relationships that have not remarried will now have the option of continuing insurance coverage from the United States Services Automobile Association. Divorced non-traditional couples that remain unmarried will also have access to the same benefits, according to the agreement. The change is part of an agreement the USAA made with the Attorney General’s office. The USAA provides insurance to members of the armed forces and their family members. In the past, the organization faced complaints that it ceased coverage for anyone in a same-sex relationship that ended in divorce or the death of one of the participants. Although Massachusetts began officially recognizing gay marriage in 2004, the USAA did not update its policies to include same-sex couples for eight years afterwards. Now, under the terms of the agreement, the USAA will provide benefits to the people whose requests were denied previously. The company will also pay a fine. In a statement released recently, the USAA claims the agreement is not a change from its regular practices. The company says it has offered benefits to non-traditional couples for the past two years. USAA asserts this includes both surviving spouses and divorcees — as long as they have not remarried. This agreement is one example of the difficulties non-traditional couples may face. Divorce or death of one of the partners only

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Many factors for Massachusetts couples considering gay marriage

Contemplating marriage can be one of the most important and life-altering decisions that someone will ever make. Same-sex couples in Massachusetts can potentially face many areas of confusion when deciding if the time is right to get married. A recent decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As a result, each individual state is able to determine some of the legal variables involved in a gay marriage. There are currently 13 states, including Massachusetts, where same sex marriage is legal. Of the 37 states which do not recognize same-sex marriage, some still offer benefits to same sex partners, while other states grant them no legal status. Tax implications vary across the country for these couples. For example, an individual living in a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage — but was legally married in a state which does — would be required to declare his or herself as single on any state tax returns. Same-sex couples traveling abroad could face potential risks. Some countries consider any small display of public affection between same-sex partners to be a crime. The possible hurdles in the way of splitting up might be the most important consideration of all for these individuals. Currently, many same-sex couples would have to relocate to a state which recognizes the legality of their marriage — just to be able to formally divorce. The difference in the interpretation of our laws from state to state could create a lot

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Gay marriage: federal appeals court in Boston rules on benefits

On Thursday, May 31 a Massachusetts federal appeals court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional in its denial of federal benefits to gay couples who have married. The ruling is viewed as a significant and welcome victory for those who support the legitimacy and legality of gay marriage. The decision focused on the rights of legally married gay couples to receive federal benefits. Massachusetts has long been a trailblazer in the push to legalize and support gay marriage within the United States. Last week’s ruling continues that tradition by agreeing with a lower court’s 2010 decision which stated that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the constitutional right of states to define and regulate marriage within their own boundaries. Furthermore, such laws unfairly deny same-sex couples who marry the same federal benefits that heterosexual couples regularly enjoy. This ruling focuses solely on the benefits section of the law. No deliberation was held on the more controversial aspects of the law, including the provision that states that do not allow same-sex marriage cannot be forced to acknowledge or honor gay marriages performed in states that do allow the practice. Nor did the panel of appeals judges consider the question of whether same sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Proponents of gay marriage cite the ruling as an important victory; one that will allow gay couples the right to federal benefits such as health care, survivorship benefits and the ability to file joint federal tax returns. Furthermore,

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Same-sex divorce bill in D.C. closes unfair loophole

Massachusetts residents may be interested to know that pending legislation in the District of Columbia is designed to offer protection to same sex couples who married in the District and want to divorce, but now live in a state that does not recognize the marriage. To date, in addition to the District of Columbia, six states allow same-sex marriage. The proposed bill is titled the Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Amendment Act of 2011 and is expected to come to a vote in early 2012. In effect, it allows same-sex couples no longer living in Washington, D.C., to process their divorce there under certain conditions. Previously, the law required that one party to the marriage live there for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. The bill was cosponsored by eight of the D.C. Council’s 13 members. It is considered necessary because states that do permit same sex marriages have no mechanism for providing a divorce between a couple lawfully married in another jurisdiction. For the law to apply, the couple must have been married in the District. Since so few states currently provide for same-sex marriage, the District of Columbia appears to offer an important safeguard for those wishing to divorce. The law in this area is constantly changing, and those affected would likely benefit from consulting an attorney experienced in family law and procedures as they apply to same-sex marriage. In enacting the proposed legislation, the District will be closing a loophole that seemingly leaves some same-sex

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