Friday, January 20, 2012

Same Sex Marriage/Unions

I'm on an estate planning listserv that a very fine New York lawyer, Sharon L. Klein of Lazard Wealth Management LLC, authors. Her email of this week includes the following on the status of pending same-sex marriage/union state legislation:

Colorado Civil Union Proposal

Pursuant to very detailed legislation introduced in Colorado on January 11, 2012, two unmarried adults over age 18, regardless of gender, would be allowed to enter into a civil union.

Parties to a civil union would be afforded many of the same benefits and protections under Colorado law as married spouses. These benefits are specifically listed in the bill and include rights of inheritance, survivorship benefits, priority for appointment as guardian, conservator or personal representative and benefits of laws regarding medical directives and care. However, the bill provides that, since Colorado income tax filings are tied to federal filings, civil union partners will be prevented from filing a joint state income tax return. The creation of a study commission to investigate state income tax treatment is proposed.

The bill provides that anyone who enters into a civil union in Colorado consents to the jurisdiction of the Colorado courts for the purpose of any action relating to the civil union, even if one or both parties cease to reside in the state.

New Jersey Same Sex Marriage Proposal

On January 10, 2012, a bill was introduced in New Jersey to recognize same sex marriage, in lieu of the civil union regime currently authorized under New Jersey law. Under the bill, marriage would be defined as the legally recognized union of two consenting persons in a committed relationship. Civil union partners would have 60 days following the bill’s enactment to dissolve their civil union, otherwise the civil union partners would be deemed married.

Washington State Same Sex Marriage Proposal

On January 13, 2012, identical legislation was introduced in the Washington House and Senate to recognize same sex marriage. The bills would allow persons over age 18 to marry regardless of gender, and, except in limited circumstances, would supplant the registered domestic partnership regime currently authorized under Washington law. The bill requires that any statute, rule or regulation referring to husband or wife be construed as gender neutral and applicable to spouses of the same sex.

Except in limited circumstances, same sex couples in a Washington registered domestic partnership would be deemed married as of June 30, 2014, unless the partnership is dissolved or converted into a marriage before that date.

Missouri Constitutional Amendment Proposed to Prohibit Same Sex Marriage Recognition

On January 9, 2012, the Missouri legislature proposed an amendment to the state constitution to prohibit Missouri from recognizing any federal action mandating the recognition of same sex marriage or civil union, or any relationship other than the marriage of one man and one woman. The amendment would be submitted to Missouri voters for their approval.

West Virginia Constitutional Amendment Proposed to Prohibit Same Sex Marriage Recognition

On January 11, 2012, the West Virginia legislature proposed an amendment to the state constitution to restrict marriage to one man and one woman, and to prohibit West Virginia from recognizing same sex marriages. The amendment would be submitted to West Virginia voters for their approval.

Wikipedia has an article that gives the current status of same-sex marriage legislation state-by-state.

Wiki also has an article on on the current status of" civil unions" or "civil partnerships." Part of that article addresses the subject in the United States.

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