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Marriage Equality

Marriage Equality - Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in...

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Last updated: 5/15/08 1 www.nclrights.org Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in California Frequently Asked Questions Last updated: May 15, 2008 What Do I Need To Know About Getting Married In California? 1. Can same-sex couples marry in California? Yes. On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. Beginning as soon as June 16, same-sex couples will be able to marry in California. 2. Can the court’s decision be appealed? No. The California Supreme Court has the final say in cases brought under the California Constitution, like this case, and there can be no more appeals. 3. Does the court’s decision affect the rights of heterosexual couples? No. The rights of heterosexual couples to marry and the rights and responsibilities of those who are married remain exactly the same. The decision simply ensures equality and fairness for same-sex couples. 4. Does this ruling require religious groups or clergy members to marry same-sex couples? No. The court’s decision said the government may not discriminate against same-sex couples by barring them from civil marriage – a legal institution established and regulated by the government. Religious groups and clergy members remain free to recognize or refuse to recognize marriages within their religion as each sees fit. While some faiths do not permit same-sex couples to marry within that faith, a growing number do. As a result of the court’s decisions, same-sex couples may choose to be married by a clergy person in a welcoming community of faith or by a civil servant such as a judge or authorized deputy. 5. Should we get married now? Marriage is a serious legal and personal commitment that should not be entered into lightly. Before getting married, couples should educate themselves about the legal consequences of marriage, in addition to other considerations. Same-sex couples also face some additional considerations that heterosexual couples do not face, due to discrimination by the federal government as well as by a number of states. Deciding whether to marry is an important decision for everyone, gay or straight, but lesbian and gay couples have to be prepared for and be willing to take on those additional challenges.
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Last updated: 5/15/08 2 www.nclrights.org A period of legal uncertainty is likely. For example, if you marry in California, you cannot be certain whether your marriage will be respected if you live in, travel to, or move to a state that has laws or constitutional amendments limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. In addition, current federal law prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples for purposes of the many federal rights and benefits given to married heterosexual couples, such as the right to file joint federal income taxes and the right to social security benefits as a surviving spouse.
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