Same Sex Marriage and Families

A few months ago, this blog might have sounded quite different than it does today. As you know, the Supreme Court recently passed laws to grant the same rights to same sex marriages as those that heterosexual marriages have always enjoyed. It has been a long time coming and we at West Coast Family Mediation are pleased to have everyone’s marital rights finally acknowledged by the highest court in our nation.

That said, there are still important issues to acknowledge, unique to same sex marriages. I strongly encourage you to ensure the rights of you and your family by maintaining the proper legal chain of paperwork at every family milestone. For instance, if you are in a same sex marriage with children, chances are there are third parties involved such as sperm donors, surrogate mothers, and adoption agencies. This can create a nightmare if the rights of the third parties are not legally defined and potentially put your family at risk in the future.

My heterosexual friend recently told me that because she doesn’t share the same last name as her husband, they were questioned as recently as last month about her status as his wife. In fact, it was his human resource department which asked him to fax in a copy of their marriage license. He had already been working there for 15 years, and they have been married for 20! As a same sex couple, the bar of acceptance can be even higher. I understand that we have all experienced the prejudice associated with doubt and lack of approval. So, if you and your partner do not share the same last name, expect to be questioned, and be prepared to provide proof.

Nowhere will this prove to be more true should something affect you or your partner’s health. Make sure there are healthcare directives in place for you two, and for your children. Everyone wants to be able to protect their loved ones’ best interests and in the past – though hopefully less so now – this has been a battlefield between the hospitals, family-of-origin, and the partner of the ill person. Make sure to also have wills which clearly spell out the custody rights of the children. While it is not enjoyable to contemplate one’s own demise, imagine what might happen if your parents, who might never have approved of your partner, decide to pursue custody of their grandchild, or the close male friend who offered to be a sperm donor for one of your children, changes his mind once he hears you have died.

We here at West Coast Family Mediation are pleased to say that we have a great interest in, along with significant experience, in helping same sex partners work through each and every issue which can arise in our unique circumstances. It is exciting to us to embrace the landmark Supreme Court decision and proudly apply it to your rights as a family. Contact West Coast Family Mediation and enact those rights that we have finally achieved, to protect your family now, and in the future.

by: Amanda Singer

Amanda Singer with west coast family mediation center

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