Federal Same-Sex Marriage Ban Complicates Finances, Puts Spotlight on Inequalities
Many of the legal and financial ramifications of traditional marriage are automatic upon marriage. Even without a will, if one spouse dies, the other spouse is granted certain rights in the estate. Once married, each spouse has ownership rights to marital property. The parties also get all applicable health and employment benefits, can file joint state and joint federal tax returns, and are afforded many other financial and legal rights without taking any overt actions. Gay couples are not so lucky, unfortunately, and the financial issues that same-sex partners must face are a constant reminder that marriage equality is still far away, though it gets closer every year.
Many of the obstacles in the way of marriage equality for same-sex couples have been demolished by states through civil union and domestic partnership laws and even legalization of gay marriage. These are important steps toward the final goal of bringing change to the federal government and its Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) With the ongoing financial hassles and denial of rights plaguing gay couples, the movement for change on the federal level is growing stronger.
Same-sex couples do not have the rights and protections that traditional married couples do, at least under federal law. Even if their union and certain rights are recognized in their state, it may not be in recognized in another state. Gay couples must take extra pains to document their relationship and assets on paper as well as establish other protections, such as drawing up a will to ensure that they are provided for in case of death. Additionally, taxes must be filed two different ways and they have to think about whether employers are going to follow federal or state laws when it comes to benefits. The one good thing about all these complications is that a growing percentage of the U.S. population is getting fed up with them; and when people are fed up, they push for change.
The ultimate achievement of marriage equality is worthy of the long process it takes to get there and it is getting closer every day. During such dynamic times, it is important to be well aware of your rights and options. If you are considering a civil union in Illinois or have questions concerning your rights as a civil union spouse, contact the knowledgeable Chicago civil union attorneys at Nottage and Ward for a consultation at (312) 332-2915.
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