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Gay Marriage Laws in Colorado

Gay Marriage Laws in ColoradoIn Colorado,
gay marriage laws are moving toward achieving equality. While gay marriage is
not legal in Colorado, gay marriage laws allow for same sex unions, which
entitle partners to certain rights. In Colorado, gay couples can enter into a
designated beneficiary agreement which entitles them to certain benefits
regarding funeral arrangements and retirement plan disbursements. 


In addition,
partners can receive death benefits and inherit property. In the past, a will
was required to designate such rights. However, wills could not cover all
issues covered in a designated beneficiary agreement. In Colorado, gay rights
are taking a step toward the equality enjoyed by other individuals. In fact, gay
marriage laws are headed toward positive changes in most of the nation. 


In Colorado, gay marriage laws are moving toward achieving equality. While gay marriage is not legal in Colorado, gay marriage laws allow for same sex unions, which entitle partners to certain rights. In Colorado, gay couples can enter into a designated beneficiary agreement which entitles them to certain benefits regarding funeral arrangements and retirement plan disbursements. 
In addition, partners can receive death benefits and inherit property. In the past, a will was required to designate such rights. However, wills could not cover all issues covered in a designated beneficiary agreement. In Colorado, gay rights are taking a step toward the equality enjoyed by other individuals. In fact, gay marriage laws are headed toward positive changes in most of the nation. 
While the process seems rather slow, the impact of Bills like Bill 1260, can begin implementing  a positive change. These small steps will eventually lead to big changes in gay marriage laws.In 2009, Governor Ritter signed the bill that granted many rights that may eventually impact gay marriage laws in Colorado. Gay marriage is still banned in Colorado but civil unions are not specifically banned. 
While the laws does not specifically allow for civil unions,  Bill 1260 does allow couples certain rights that were not in place before. For example, non married couples can utilize these rights for the purposes of estate planning, medical decision making, the purchase of property and certain benefits that were not allowed previously. In fact, the bill allows for shared retirement plans and life insurance policies.
There is also currently a ballot measure which seeks to reword Colorado’s constitutional amendment, to allow marriage for any two consenting adults. If approved, the measure would override Amendment 43 which stated that marriage was union between a man and a woman. Many states use this wording in order put gay marriage laws in effect, without actually doing so. 
In other words, states forbid gay marriage by only legally allowing unions between a man and a woman. Gay marriage laws only have the strength of their wording. In fact, states that do not expressly forbid gay marriage, are more likely to allow couples at least some of the rights of marriage. Colorado is a good example of that. In fact, it appears that gay marriage laws are in the process of changing thanks in part to Bill 1260 and the current ballot measure.


While
the process seems rather slow, the impact of Bills like Bill 1260, can begin
implementing  a positive change. These small steps will eventually lead to
big changes in gay marriage laws.
In 2009, Governor Ritter signed the bill that granted many rights that may
eventually impact gay marriage laws in Colorado. Gay marriage is still banned
in Colorado but civil unions are not specifically banned. 


While the laws does
not specifically allow for civil unions,  Bill 1260 does allow couples
certain rights that were not in place before. For example, non married couples
can utilize these rights for the purposes of estate planning, medical decision
making, the purchase of property and certain benefits that were not allowed
previously. In fact, the bill allows for shared retirement plans and life
insurance policies.


There is also currently a ballot measure which seeks to reword Colorado’s
constitutional amendment, to allow marriage for any two consenting adults. If
approved, the measure would override Amendment 43 which stated that marriage
was union between a man and a woman. Many states use this wording in order put gay
marriage laws in effect, without actually doing so. 


In other words, states
forbid gay marriage by only legally allowing unions between a man and a woman. Gay
marriage laws only have the strength of their wording. In fact, states that do
not expressly forbid gay marriage, are more likely to allow couples at least
some of the rights of marriage. Colorado is a good example of that. In fact, it
appears that gay marriage laws are in the process of changing thanks in part to
Bill 1260 and the current ballot measure.



Gay Marriage Laws in Wyoming

Gay Marriage Laws in Wyoming

In Wyoming, marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. In fact, Wyoming marriage laws predate the Defense of Marriage Act, which effectively prohibits the legal recognition of the marriage of a same sex couple because of the language contained within it. However, Wyoming marriage laws also allow for the legal recognition of marriages that were performed in another state, regardless of gender. 
As long as a same sex marriage was legally performed in another state, Wyoming marriage laws hold that marriage to be legally valid. While Wyoming marriage laws do not allow for same sex marriages, they will recognize one that legally took place in another state.
In Wyoming, marriage is only legally recognized when it is a union between an opposite sex couple. However, same sex couples are free to go to another state that legally recognizes gay marriage and get married in that state. That couple can then return to Wyoming and have their marriage legally recognized by the state.
In this way, same sex couples can enjoying the benefits of marriage by having their relationship legally recognized in Wyoming. Marriages between same sex couples, can be entitled to all of the rights and benefits associated with all marriages in the state of Wyoming. Marriages and same sex relationships, can enjoy equal rights in Wyoming as long as both were legally performed.
In Wyoming, marriage laws prevent same sex couples from legally recognizing their relationship unless that marriage was legally performed in another state. In addition, Wyoming currently has no laws against discriminating against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, The Matthew Shepard Act was recently signed into law by the President. The events that led to the Act, took place in Wyoming. Matthew Shepard, who identified himself as gay, was beaten into a coma by two men. He later died as a result of his injury’s. 
Later, it would be revealed that the men searched for a gay man to attack and their crime was said to be a hate crime. Due to the extreme nature of the crime, residents of Wyoming are more aware of the issues that members of the LGBT community are faced with. In fact,many believe that Wyoming may be open to allowing the recognition of same sex relationships because of the discrimination that is associated with forbidding them. 
Like many states, the battle for equal rights continues for the LGBT community in Wyoming. Marriage, or the recognition of a same sex relationship, would be a giant step towards equality.

Gay Marriage Laws in Virginia

Gay Marriage Laws in VirginiaIn Virginia,
marriage is strictly defined as a union between one man and one woman.There is
no legal recognition of gay marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships in
Virginia. Marriage attorneys are set to challenge the constitutionality of the
the state’s legal definition of marriage in Virginia. 



Marriage was defined in
the  Marshall-Newman Amendment which was ratified and added to the state’s
constitution in 2006. The amendment explicitly defines marriage as a union of
an opposite sex couple. In Virginia, marriage attorneys are set to challenge
the validity of the law and its implications on equal rights for the LGBT
community.

The Marshall-Newman Amendment explicitly denies legal recognition for same sex
relationships in Virginia. Marriages and any agreements that result form a
marriage, must be between opposite sex couples to ensure legality. In fact, the
amendment is under fire for containing language that bans any legal contracts
between same sex couples. 



Many claim that the amendment removes many rights
from same sex couples that they are otherwise afforded in many other states. In
addition to prohibiting same sex marriages, the state also prevents legal
recognition for any documentation that results form a same sex relationship.
Perhaps, as many claim, the amendment prevents couples from entering into any
legal contracts whatever. 


These contracts could include wills, medical and
legal powers of attorney, and ownership of joint property or assets. However,
the law is not yet clear and is set to be challenged by several Virginia
marriage attorneys. If in fact agreements between same sex couples are held to
be invalid, The United States Supreme Court will certainly be asked to
intervene.

Because of unclear laws, Virginia marriage attorneys may be hesitant to help
same sex couples enter into any legal contracts at all. In fact, those
contracts may be invalidated by the courts, based on the Marshall-Newman
Amendment and attorneys may not wish to be involved in contracting agreements
that will not be upheld by the courts.


In Virginia, marriages between same sex
partners are prevented from being legally recognized, and any documentation
that results form that relationship has the potential of being invalidated by
the courts. Virginia marriage attorneys may advise same sex couples that their
relationship is afforded no legal rights at all in Virginia. Marriages
performed legally in other states, will also not be recognized in Virginia,
unless they adhere to Virginia’s laws. Currently, there is noting that
resembles equal rights for the LGBT community in Virginia. However, legal
challenges are likely to change that.

Gay Marriage Laws in Washington

Gay Marriage Laws in WashingtonCurrently,
Washington state offers no legal recognition for gay marriage. The state
enacted the Defense of Marriage  in 1998 and the act was upheld by the
courts. In fact, the State’s Supreme Court decided that the state did indeed,
have the power to limit marriage to opposite sex couples. Yet, the language of
the law only forbid same sex marriage, not recognition of other same sex
relationships in Washington. 



Marriage was seen as unique by its definition,
However, Washington state marriage laws do allow for the recognition of
domestic partnership as long as it is defined as such. With this legal recognition,comes
the right, benefits and responsibilities generally reserved for marriage in Washington
state. Marriage’s only benefit over domestic partnership, is the right to call
the union a marriage.

In Washington state, marriage is sill defined as a union between one man and
one woman. However, domestic partnerships entitles same sex couples to many
rights that they do not have in many states. For instance, same sex couples are
able to inherit property from each other, even in the absence of a will. In addition,
they can own property and assets jointly. Domestic abuse laws also apply to
domestic partners, when they do not apply in many other states. One aspect of
marriage that many people fail to think about, is the right to not testify
against a spouse. 



In Washington state, marriage and domestic partnership
entitled partners to the right to avoid testifying against their partners in a
court of law. In addition, domestic partners are entitled to a legal
dissolution of their relationship. 


While there are a few restrictions, couples
are entitled to the same rights as divorce. For example, one partner may be
entitled to alimony payments or child support. In addition, the property and
assets will be distributed according to the rules of the court, as they would
apply to divorce in Washington. Marriage receives no special considerations
over domestic partnerships.

In Washington, marriage is defined as a union between an opposite sex couple.
However, domestic partnership entitles couples to the same rights as a married
couple in Washington State. Marriage and domestic partnerships are seen as
equal by the courts when they begin and in the even that they end.


Couples in
both relationships, are entitled to a legal recognition for their relationship,
in addition to a legal recognition should the relationship end in Washington.
Marriage is seen as a separate relationship from domestic partnerships, but
both relationships enjoy the same rights and responsibilities.

Gay Marriage Laws in West Virginia

Gay Marriage Laws in West Virginia

 

West Virginia marriage laws only allow for one man and one woman to enter into marriage. In, West Virginia marriage was clearly defined with the enactment of the Defense of Marriage act. However, a bill that would have amended the constitution to ban same sex marriage, was voted down in 2009. In fact the amendment was reintroduced and voted down again. Yet, there are no laws preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

In West Virginia, marriage laws are the only laws that currently apply to the LGBT community. They are prevented form getting married, but unable to legally protect themselves from discrimination. Perhaps, discrimination laws would be utilized to fight the ban on gay marriage and that is why there are none in place.

West Virginia law on marriage explicitly forbid the legal recognition of same sex marriage. However, the state's constitution is without an amendment that bans gay marriage. In fact, a proposed amendment that would ban gay marriage, was voted down twice. 

Law makers have claimed that there are much more pressing issues that should be dealt with before they decide on the legality of gay marriage in West Virginia. Marriage is already defined by the Defense of Marriage Act and lawmakers feel that it deserves no further protection.

Conversely, there are no legal protections against discrimination in the LGBT community. However, the state's laws regarding domestic violence, protect all couples, regardless of gender in West Virginia. Marriage laws however, do not allow for any legal recognition for same sex couples. In fact, same sex couples are not entitled to any of the rights, benefits or responsibilities afforded to married couples in West Virginia. 

Marriage is seen as a unique relationship, that is entitled to special rights and protections, that are not afforded to any other relationship, same sex or otherwise. However,many law makers in West Virginia, believe that banning gay marriage in the constitution, would be akin to making discrimination legal. Therefore, there does not seem to be a rush to ban gay marriage in West Virginia. 

Marriage should not be banned for the LGBT community because it is a form of discrimination by preventing equal access to the benefits of marriage. Perhaps, that is why the state offers no legal protection form discrimination in West Virginia. Marriage laws should be changed to offer some legal recognition for same sex couples, so that they can enjoy equal rights.

Gay Marriage Laws in Wisconsin

Gay Marriage Laws in Wisconsin

Currently, Wisconsin marriage laws forbid the legal recognition of same sex marriages. However, the state has not yet enacted the Defense of Marriage Act. Yet statutes define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in Wisconsin. Marriage was defined in early statues and in a constitutional amendment in 2006. 

However, as of August 2009,  domestic partnerships are legally allowed in Wisconsin. Marriage laws prevent domestic partners from having the designation of marriage, but they are entitled to the rights of marriage in Wisconsin. Marriage rights are granted equally to couples in the state. In fact, the state also allows for a legal termination of a domestic partnerships in the same way that it allows for divorce.

Domestic partners are entitled to all of the rights and responsibilities, normally reserved for marriage. In fact, domestic partners are covered under the state's family leave act. In many states, same sex couples are not afforded the right to take leave from work in order to care for each other. However, Wisconsin law on marriage mirror the laws that domestic partnerships abide by, and therefore, partners can take paid leave from work. 

In addition, domestic partners are entitled to shared property and assets, as well as the right to inherit said property, in the absence of a will in Wisconsin. Marriages and Domestic partnerships also entitle partners to visit each other in the hospital and in prison. Domestic partners can also be entitled to make any medical decisions regarding their partner in Wisconsin.

Marriage laws generally reserve those rights for spouses and relatives in other states.  This can be an important designation, because without the domestic partnership, there would be no recognition of the relationship and partners would not be considered family. 

In addition, domestic partners are able to dissolve the relationship in the same way that a divorce takes place. In order to dissolve the relationship, couples must get certification from the state that says the relationship has ended. In Wisconsin, marriage and domestic partnerships, receive equal legal consideration.

In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state to forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation. In fact, it would be almost a decade before any other state took such action and almost thirty years before a federal law addressed the issue.In addition, Wisconsin marriage laws did not explicitly forbid legal recognition of same sex relationships. 

Therefore, domestic partnerships became legally recognized, providing equal access to the rights normally reserved for marriage. By allowing domestic partnerships, Wisconsin marriage laws avoid discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation.

Gay Marriage Laws in Oregon

Gay Marriage Laws in Oregon

In Oregon,
gay marriage has been close to being legalized in recent years. Many believe
Oregon could be the next state to allow gay Oregon marriages. Due to a number
of court battles and reversed decisions, the Oregon gay community has seen the
legalization of gay Oregon marriages be given and taken right back away from
them. Currently, Oregon allows domestic partnerships. 


The right to have
domestic partnerships comes after a bill set would have allowed civil-unions
did not become a law. Oregon gay couples can thank Gov. Kulongoski for pushing
for the bill that allowed domestic partnerships. The bill came out of the
Oregon Family Fairness act and it gave Oregon gay couples many of the same
rights that Oregon marriages offer. Some of the rights part of the domestic
partnership include, filing joint custody of insurance forms, hospital
visitation rights, and certain rights given to you if your partner passes away.
A court challenge almost stopped the domestic partnership from being passed,
however after a delay the law finally took effect in early February 2008.

Oregon marriage licenses were given to Oregon gay couples in
the county of Multnomah. As soon as the county started issuing marriage
licenses to Oregon gays there were hundreds a day being requested. It was first
ruled that the state had no right to block the marriage licenses by the state’s
legislature, legislative counsel. Also,  the judge is the first hearing on
the issue refused to place an injunction on the gay Oregon marriage licenses. 


After more court decisions favored the right for Oregon gay couples to marry,
those for the DOMA act argued all the gay marriage licenses went against the
state constitution. They argued that Multnomah did not have the right to issue
gay marriage licenses. The act that was put into action was called ballot
measure 36. It banned Oregon gay marriages. It was also a retro active ban so
it made all the Oregon marriages between gays invalid even though they had take
place already. The supreme court made the decision final that gay marriage
would not be allowed in the state of Oregon.

    Gay couples in Oregon have will not stop fighting for more
rights. The people were so close to having gay marriages allowed that they were
giving out hundreds of licenses a day. Numerous court battles were ruled in
favor of gay marriage but ultimately the defense of marriage act won out. 

Many
believe Oregon will soon allow gay marriages again, but for now the will have
to settle for domestic partnerships and the benefits that come along with that.
Census numbers show that there are thousands of registered gay couples in
Multnomah alone and someday they may even get a chance to marry in their home
state.

Gay Marriage Laws in Pennsylvania

Gay Marriage Laws in Pennsylvania

The
current Pennsylvania marriage laws do not allow gay marriage. Pennsylvania gay
couples are blocked from being married by the Defense of Marriage Act,
otherwise known as DOMA. Right now some anti-gay marriage activists are in an
uproar that Pennsylvania may soon allow gay marriage.


Even though there is not
even a civil-union law allowing Pennsylvania gay couples to get married, some
religious people in the region feel they need to make sure that the gay
marriage laws are not passed. The Pennsylvania for Marriage organization is
looking to recruit people to protect Pennsylvania marriage from being tainted
by Pennsylvania’s gay community. They believe in the sanctity of marriage and
believe and their religious liberty to protect the sanctity of marriage.

The Pennsylvania for Marriage organization strongly feel
marriage should only be between one man and one woman. They believe anything
else would damage the state, children, and the meaning of a Pennsylvania
marriage. They are looking to block HB 300, which would become part of the
Human Relations act. HB 300, if passed, would allow for no gender or sexual
orientation discrimination when it comes to Pennsylvania marriage.


They have
listed on their web site some of the prominent names that support HB 300 which
would allow Pennsylvania gay couples to either marry or form a civil union.
They even asked everyone to use their civil action center and contact their
local state representatives in an effort to block the Pennsylvania gay
movement. Those against gay Pennsylvania marriage are looking to amend the
state constitution to completely ban all Pennsylvania gay marriages,
civil-unions, or any other type of legal bond that would have the gay couples
enjoying the benefits of marriage.

The amendment to the constitution may be added banning gay
marriage and unions. Gays argue that the language of the amendment is so sloppy
and unclear that it seems as if the amendment would take away rights that gays
have now, not regarding marriage. The amendment banning gays from joining
together as a married couple is in place in Pennsylvania as it was voted in the
senate. If the gay couples would like to form a union they will have to go to a
state that will accommodate them. 


The state has spoken and claimed that it will
not recognize any union or marriage between 2 people of the same gender.
Therefore,the forming of any union outside of Pennsylvania will not be valid or
recognized under Pennsylvania marriage laws. Any couples that are hoping to
claim benefits because they have a union or marriage formed somewhere else,
while living in Pennsylvania, will not be granted those benefits.


Gay Marriage Laws in Rhode Island

Gay Marriage Laws in Rhode Island

Rhode Island gay marriage laws currently do not allow same-sex marriages. The state at this time only allows domestic partnerships. These domestic partnership do not have nearly all the benefits of a normal Rhode Island marriage, but they do have some important ones. Rhode Island domestic partnerships allow for your partner to have family visitation rights in hospitals or nursing homes.
 
They also offer benefits to employees that are police officers, firefighters and offer funeral rights. The domestic partnership also offers property rights which are very important. All of these are right from the state, the federal government does not offer any rights to the Rhode Island gay domestic partnerships. Currently there are three interesting bills pending for the Rhode Island General Assembly to review. 
One of them would make Rhode Island marriage legal for gays. The other would ban same-sex marriage for Rhode Island gay couples. The third bill is a bill that would allow a reciprocal beneficiary agreement, granting gay couples more rights.
Rhode Island Attorney General Lynch has stated that Rhode Island should recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in another state. He also stated that not all those marriages should be accepted, for instance they may not recognize same-sex marriages from one state, but would from another depending on the circumstances. If the out of state marriage is not of Rhode Island marriage standards then the state should not have to recognize it, Attorney General Lynch explained.
   
In 2006, the Supreme court ruled that Rhode Island gay couples who had formed domestic partnerships were free to travel to Massachusetts and legally have a same-sex marriage. Once the couple is married in Massachusetts and they come back to Rhode Island, they will be recognized as having a Rhode Island marriage. Before Rhode Island gay couples were allowed to marry in Massachusetts, a nearly century old law that claimed on residents of Massachusetts could be married in the state, had to be lifted.
It is interesting to note that Rhode Island, which does not allow gays to marry in the state, also can not run a divorce court for Rhode Island gay married couples that were married in another state.
There are bills being written by both sides of the Rhode Island marriage debate. Some for gay marriage and others opposing it. Both sides claim to have opinion polls that support their argument, either for or against Rhode Island allowing gays to marry in the state. Brown University claims that 60% of Rhode Island citizens support gay marriage while only 31% oppose it. 
The National Organization for Marriage claims that 43% oppose same-sex marriage, 36% are for it, and 17% are undecided. In both polls however, the opponents of same-sex marriage fail to reach the 50% marker. Rhode Island may be one of the states on the verge of legalizing gay marriage being performed within the state. With a close proximity to other States with a large and active gay community such as New York and Massachusetts, the supporters of Rhode Island Gay marriage will likely grow.

Gay Marriage Laws in South Carolina

Gay Marriage Laws in South Carolina

Like
most other states, South Carolina adopted DOMA. The Defense of Marriage Act was
enacted by many states to clearly define marriage as to prohibit legalizing gay
marriages. In South Carolina, gay marriage is legally forbidden. In addition,
South Carolina approved a constitutional amendment that explicitly forbids same
sex marriages and civil unions, in addition to the enactment of DOMA. In fact,
seventy eight percent of voters supported the measure.  In South Carolina,
gay marriage, domestic partnerships and civil unions are banned outright.

In South Carolina, gay marriages and other same sex relationships are forbidden
from being legally recognized by Article XVII. In other words, no same sex
relationship shall be recognized by the state, no matter what it is called, and
no matter if it is recognized by another state. In fact, Title 20 states that a
marriage between same sex couples is forbidden and against the public policies
of the state of South Carolina. Marriages are forbidden in several
circumstances, such as between relatives and in the case of a same sex couples. 


In fact, Title 20 explains in detail, which marriages are forbidden by the
state of South Carolina. Marriages are not allowed between specific
individuals, such as a woman and her father, son, grandson etc., and another
woman. Likewise, a man may not marry his mother, stepmother, sister or another
man. This Title equates same sex marriage with an individual marrying a
relative.

However, South Carolina’s gay population appears to be in consideration by some
state senators. In fact, The Civil Union Equality Act was introduced to the
state Senate in 2009.  The bill was meant to establish the legality of
civil unions for same sex couples in South Carolina. Marriages would still be
explicitly forbidden for same sex couples but same sex unions would be legally
recognized in South Carolina. Gay couples would be afforded all rights and
responsibilities usually afforded to married couples in South Carolina. 

Marriage provides certain rights such as, the right to share health insurance,
the right to assign a a partner as a health care proxy and the right to own
property jointly. If the bill were to become law, it would be active
immediately upon the signature of the governor of South Carolina. Marriage’s definition
would remain unchanged as the bill would only legally allow for civil unions
for same sex couples. The bill has not moved and currently awaits review and
the voting procedure of the state.