‘Making It Legal’

The Book Worm

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

The invitations started arriving about a month ago. Your niece on the other side of the country is getting married. The neighbor’s son and his new wife are having a late reception. Three people at work are making you crazy with wedding talk. You’re gay. So when will it ever be your turn?

Marriage for gays, lesbians and transgender people may be more possible than you think. Check out “Making It Legal” by two attorneys, Frederick Hertz and Emily Doskow, and see if wedding bells are in your future.

Though it seems like the issue of gay marriage has been around for ages, Hertz says public relationships between same-sex individuals were unthought of until a few decades ago. Then, in 1969, two Minneapolis men went to City Hall and applied for a marriage license. They were turned down.

Twenty-five years later, the city of Berkeley, Calif., enacted the first domestic partnership ordinance in the U.S. The Netherlands legalized same-sex marriage in 2001, becoming the first country to do so.

But none of that matters to you right now. You want to marry your beloved. How can you make sure that union is legally recognized?

The authors say that making your dream real will take a lot of legwork. Each state has its own laws; some allow marriage, others allow domestic partnerships and different rights are granted in different states. It’s important to know what rules apply in your home state. It’s also important to know what rights can be carried across boundaries, and what happens if you move.

Also at issue — and the authors admit that it’s a strange topic to cover in a book about marriage — is what happens if the union dissolves. Depending on your circumstances and the state where you live, you may have to obtain a divorce. If your state doesn’t recognize gay marriage, though, that doesn’t mean you can blithely walk away, scot-free. You’ll need to go through the proper channels.

Add children and real estate to the union and it gets even more complicated.

While there’s no doubt that “Making It Legal” can help ensure that your marriage is recognized formally and officially, there are a few things you need to know before you use it to start planning.

Because laws seem to change almost weekly, this book may be dated before you pull it off the shelf. But fear not, the publisher offers legal updates on its website.

Hertz and Doskow seem to dwell on the dissolution of marriage, which isn’t exactly what you’re thinking about now, but it’s important. Getting out of a union may be more complicated than getting in. Because of that, the authors go to great lengths to get you to think about what you’re really doing, and if marriage is right for you.

Overall, this may not be the last word in gay marriage, but it comes as close as possible. If you’re planning a romantic ceremony this summer, “Make It Legal” will help you make it right.

Terri Schlichenmeyer collects books, tigers, trivia and book bags. She has also been accused of collecting dust now and then.

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