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April 6, 2015

When Marriage Is Not Enough: What same-sex couples need to know about protecting their families

Cathy's blogMarriage equality across the nation has been moving at a breakneck speed and it shows no sign of stopping. Achieving this new legal benefit has been an incredible advancement for the rights and dignity of all LGBT people. But it’s also important to remember that even though marriage provides thousands of couples and their families with many new legal protections, marriage alone is not enough to fully protect all LGBT families.

Same-sex spouses and transgender spouses need to know that they still need to take other essential steps to fully protect their rights and those of their families. To help them navigate through the new maze of benefits and legal questions, The National Center for Lesbian Rights has put together a new guide on what LGBT couples still need to do, even after they get married.

Some of the topics discussed in the new guide include:

  • Protect your children with an adoption or parentage judgment – All non-biological parents still need an adoption or court judgment of parentage to protect their rights, even if they are married, and even if they are on their child’s birth certificate.  Being married to a birth parent does not automatically protect the non-biological parent in every state.
  • Protect your and your spouse’s property and decision making with estate planning – All married couples should make sure that they have planned for what will happen to their spouse if one of them passes away through estate planning. This could be through a will or trust, or designating your spouse as a beneficiary on your financial accounts.
  • Protect your spouse’s ability to obtain public benefits – If you or your spouse are older, or if one of you has a disability, make sure you understand your rights under Social Security and Medicare. Your spouse may be able to receive more benefits as your spouse than on his or her own.
  • Understand your rights under federal law. The federal government now recognizes same-sex spouses but there are still some benefits that have not yet begun to be fully available to same-sex spouses. In order to avoid losing out on a benefit that may be available to you, you should understand your rights under Social Security, Medicare, and other federal benefits.

The guide can be found here.

For more information about rights in your state, please contact the National Center for Lesbian Rights at www.nclrights.org/gethelp or 800-528-6257.

 

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