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Frequently Asked Questions About Gay Marriage in California

Answers to Your Questions About California and Gay Marriage

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Update 11/07/08

California voters approved a constitutional amendment that makes gay marriage no longer an option in California. The status of those couples all ready married is unclear at this point. Now that the highest court in California has deemed that the state must allow gay marriages, you probably have a lot of questions about what that means. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about California's gay marriage law.

I was married in San Francisco in in 2004. Is my marriage legal now?

No. Those marriages were nullified in 2004.

When can gays and lesbians get married in California?

The California Supreme Court ruled that banning gay and lesbian couples from marrying is unconstitutional on May 15, 2008. The court gave 30 days for the state to begin marrying same-sex couples, so by June 16, 2008, gays and lesbians will be able to marry in California.

We have a California Domestic Partnership, do we need to dissolve that before we can be married?

No. You can be married to the same person you have a domestic partnership with. (Not someone else.) Having both can't hurt.

What's the difference between a California Domestic Partnership and Marriage?

I live in another state, can I be married in California?

Yes. There is no residency requirement to get married in California.

Will my California marriage be recognized in my home state?

Most likely not. Most states have bans on gay marriage. Your California marriage will probably be recognized in states that recognize gay marriage, which as of this writing is Massachusetts and New York.

Will the federal government recognize California same-sex marriages?

No. Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized by the federal government. This means married gay couples cannot not file joint federal tax returns, sponsor their spouse for immigration purposes or receive federal benefits such as Social Security.

Can the ruling be overturned?

The only way the ruling can be overturned is by an amendment to California's constitution. Anti-gay groups have all ready been collecting signatures to try and put a measure on the November 2008 ballot that would amend the state constitution.

What will happen to the married couples if that measure passes?

The California attorney general's office says the issue is unclear. What will probably happen is the issue will be fought out in the legal system.

How can I get involved in fight to keep gay marriage legal in California?

There are many local, state and national organizations working to fight the anti-gay marriage ballot measure. Here are a few:

Sources: San Jose Mercury, Equality California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, The Oregonian (May 18, 2008).

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