Berman & Asbel, LLP

Right to wed doesn't mean all same-sex couples should

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in most states, including Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Indeed, the shift has happened so fast and acceptance has been so broad that the issue almost seemed to be in simmer mode until the religious freedom law in Indiana sparked it back to a high rolling boil.

Same-sex marriage is also set to take center stage again in a few weeks. The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments on the issue April 28. Arguing for gay and lesbian plaintiffs will be Mary Bonauto, a pioneer in gay rights advocacy. And while she has said publicly that she would be shocked if the Supreme Court ruled states can deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she has also acknowledged that conflicts like the one that the Indiana law has triggered are sure yet to come.

For now, individuals in Pennsylvania have the right to unite in marriage. But just because they can doesn't mean they necessarily should. Some couples might find that the legal cons outweigh the pros, making marriage less than ideal.

Whether a couple weds or not, there are going to be situations, rights and desires that may need to be addressed in order to set up the legal underpinnings that support relationships. These may include creating joint ownerships on homes, bank accounts and other assets. In the event of one partner or the other becomes incapable of making medical decisions for themselves, it may be necessary to create medical powers of attorney.

Estate issues that are part and parcel to marriage situations may not extend to those in partnerships. But inheritance rights can still be upheld through properly drafted wills and trusts.

In either the married or unmarried state, if a same-sex couple wants to start a family, legal issues involving adoption or birth through assisted reproduction also need to be addressed. And if the marriage or civil partnership comes to an end, the legal steps to achieve a clean dissolution must be taken.

To be sure all your concerns are aired and satisfactorily dealt with, you should be consulting with an attorney who is up to date on the current state of the law in Pennsylvania.

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