Nussbaum Family Law LLC is proud to provide divorce and family law services such as Collaborative Law, Mediation, out-of-court negotiation, Court Representation/Litigation and Prenuptial/Postnuptial Agreements to same-sex/LGBT couples or individuals, who are entitled to the same rights and protections as heterosexual parties under the constitutions of the United States and Massachusetts. Under Massachusetts law (MGL c.207), the same laws and procedures that govern heterosexual marriage also apply to same-sex marriages. There are no special procedures for a same-sex marriage.
Massachusetts has the distinction of being the first state in the Union to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003, as declared in the Supreme Judicial Court case Goodridge v. Mass. Department of Public Health, 440 Mass. 309 (2003). The majority opinion states in part as follows:
The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second class citizens…. Barred access to the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage, a person who enters into an intimate, exclusive union with another of the same sex is arbitrarily deprived of membership in one of our community’s most rewarding and cherished institutions. That exclusion is incompatible with the constitutional principles of respect for individual autonomy and equality under law.
However, it was not until 2013, ten years later, that the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, 570 US 12 (2013), held that the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as only between a man and woman, to be unconstitutional, and another two years until the Supreme Court declared in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (June 26, 2015), that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry.
Parentage/parental rights issues remain for same-sex couples within Massachusetts, especially unmarried couples, where such rights have mostly only been addressed through the courts. To address these gaps, the Massachusetts Parentage Act (“MPA”), modeled on the Uniform Parentage Act has been proposed and is currently pending before the state legislature. For more information click here: MPA Overview
Further, despite the universal right to marry, same-sex couples still face discrimination and uncertainty in other states. For these reasons, a second-parent adoption is the best way to ensure the ongoing parental rights of both parents, whether married or unmarried (MA LGBT Overview).