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Many same-sex couples still waiting for marriage equality

Same-sex couples in New Jersey and many other states are feeling frustrated because they can't take advantage of the many benefits other same-sex couples can by getting married in states they don't reside in. Even though there has been much excitement about the recent Supreme Court decision declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, life for many same-sex partners has not changed.

Currently same-sex marriages are legal in 13 states. As a result of the Supreme Court declaring DOMA unconstitutional, married couples in these states now have access to the same federal benefits that other married couples do. Four other states, including New Jersey, allow same-sex partners to enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships, which gives same-sex couples access to many of the same state-level benefits as other married couples, but does not give them access to federal benefits like survivor benefits from Social Security.

Because of each state's beneficial differences, same-sex partners may have to determine the advantage that could be afforded to them if they move to a state where gay marriage is legal. In addition to comparing marriage and/or domestic partnership benefits, same-sex couples who have children or who want children must also consider each states wildly divergent laws governing same-sex adoption.

While there has been some progress in the advancement of marriage rights for same-sex couples, determining which benefits are available in each state can quickly become very confusing. Attorneys working in the area of family law may be able to assist same-sex partners stay abreast of current and proposed laws which could affect their future.

Source: NBC News, "Rights within reach: For some gay couples, marriage is mere miles away — but that's still too far", Miranda Leitsinger, July 19, 2013

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