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Despite the Defeat of DOMA, Gay and Lesbian Couples Need Additional Protections

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2014 | Family Law

The summer of 2013 was an exciting time for LGBT couples in Minnesota. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which forbade the federal government from recognizing a legal same-sex marriage. Two months later, Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage.

Because of SCOTUS’ ruling in United States v. Windsor, LGBT couples enjoy the same federal rights and obligations as heterosexual couples. Same-sex partners are now entitled to the same treatment as heterosexual partners by the Social Security Administration (SSA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), IRS, Veterans’ Affairs (VA) and the armed services divisions.

Although LGBT couples are protected in the state of Minnesota and under federal authority, you may face problems in states that do not recognize your legal union. Traveling or moving to another state could put your family at risk of discriminatory actions.

While you are making your wedding plans, consult with an experienced Minnesota family law attorney who can advise you on such crucial matters as:

  • Spousal medical decisions – If you suffer a medical emergency while in another state where your marital relationship is not recognized, your spouse could be denied access to you. A power of attorney and advanced directive can grant your spouse health care decision-making authority.
  • Your parental rights – You are considered the parent of your partner’s biological child in Minnesota if the child was born during your marriage. However, be aware that other jurisdictions may not recognize your parental rights.
  • Divorce outside of Minnesota – Your rights and obligations regarding divorce in Minnesota are no different than a heterosexual couple. Unjustly, you may not have the same family law protections in other states. However, courts that do not recognize your rights under marriage would consider your rights created by contract.
  • Ownership of out-of-state property – There is no automatic recognition that you own marital property together in some jurisdictions, but you can preserve a 100 percent joint ownership by titling real property located in another state as joint tenancy with right of survivorship.