Same Sex Couples

Welcome to the Same Sex Couples department of Divorce and FamilyLawService Center. Here we will explain what the term same sex couples means and how the term currently fit sinto the culture of the United States. We will also touch on federal and state views on handling same sex marriage and best practices for same sex couples who wish to commit to a relationship as if they are married.

What does the term same sex couples mean?

Same sex couples is a term that refers to two people of the same gender in a romantic relationship. Homosexual, gay, and lesbian are also terms that refer to same sex couples. The romantic relationships same sex couples engage in are the same as heterosexual couples ranging from casual and serious dating to living together and committed lifetime partnerships. Children may also enter same sex couple relationships through adoption, surrogacy, or previous relationships.

Same Sex Marriage and the Culture in the United States

The culture of the United States is open in matters of race, religion, and sexual orientation. Discrimination based on race, religion, or sexual orientation is illegal. Although private marriages between same sex couples have been performed in this country for many decades, in most states same sex marriage is illegal. Whether that is based on the majority’s personal, moral, or religious beliefs, the fact remains that in most states same sex couples may not enter into holy matrimony under the eyes of the law and receive the same legal benefits of married heterosexual couples.

Same Sex Marriage – Federal and State Law

The Defense of Marriage Act denies federal recognition of same sex marriage, but does not prohibit the states from allowing it. Same sex marriage is currently allowed in 6 states. About half of the states have laws on the books in regards to civil unions and domestic partnerships, which allow some, but not all of the rights and obligations that come with heterosexual marriage.

The key benefits excluded from same sex couples are state and federal tax benefits, Family and Medical Leave benefits, and the denial of access to visit a partner who is in the intensive care unit of a hospital (this is only allowed to family members).

Because of the discrepancies among the states, relocating and divorce can become difficult issues for same sex couples to navigate.

Best Practices for Same Sex Couples

A best practice for same sex couples is to have a will drawn up explicitly stating how property is to be divided on death. Establish a power of attorney would also be a best practice enabling same sex couples to enter into contracts, negotiate, and settle matters as if they were the other person. In the same vein, medical power of attorney would allow one partner to make medical decisions for the other partner if they become incapacitated or choose whether or not one partner should remain on life support.