The Times Have Surely Changed

I quipped many years ago that when the New York Times started running same-sex wedding announcements, we would know that our relationships had moved into the social mainstream. Happily, we’ve been able to enjoy these announcements for nearly ten years now. One such announcement this month provides a vivid illustration of how dramatically our lives have been transformed in the past twenty years, and the couple’s poignant story – and their possible legal complications – mark them as “poster children” for the successes of our movement — and also, for the legal challenges same-sex couples continue to face.

Lavi Soloway is a founder of Immigration Equality and a partner in a top-notch immigration law practice in New York City. He’s been a single dad living in New York, and he and his boyfriend (they met on line, no less) recently married in Canada. So, we have a same-sex step-parent, a Canadian marriage, and spouses living in New York or California. Fortunately, Lavi had already immigrated to this country, but if he hadn’t done so, the federal disregard of their marriage would have severely hampered his relocation. His earlier adoption illustrates the challenges some gays and lesbians still face in adopting children — either because their state doesn’t allow gays to adopt at all, or because they are trying to do an international adoption. In many jurisdictions a same-sex couple cannot adopt a child as a couple, and in many states the “second parent” still can’t become a legal parent after the first parent has completed the adoption. As for their Canadian marriage, New York state will probably recognize it, but possibly not for all purposes (such as tax treatment), but with the signing of SB54 we now know that their post-Prop 8 marriage will be recognized if they relocate to California, though won’t be “designated” as a marriage, whatever that means! Most troubling, as of 2009 their marriage will not be recognized by the federal authorities, which could create a plethora of tax and legal problems regarding their relationship and the future legal issues involving Lavi’s child.

Hopefully these barriers will be removed before this newly-traditional form of family faces any significant legal problems — but in the meantime, congratulations to Lavi and Sebastian on their very romantic story!

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