Aug 11, 2008

Same-Sex Couples from Out of State Can Marry in Massachusetts

With very little fanfare and somewhat under the radar, the Massachusetts legislature voted at the end of July to repeal a 1913 law that prohibited non-residents from marrying in the state if their own state wouldn't allow the marriage. Governor Deval Patrick (whose daughter publicly came out of the closet in June) signed the law, which was effective immediately upon signing -- so now same-sex couples from out of state may marry in the Bay State.

California and Connecticut, the only other states with legal same-sex marriage, also allow out-of-state couples to marry (or at least, Connecticut will when people start getting married later this month).

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This sounds good, right? But be careful! If you live in a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, getting married in California or Massachusetts may mean problems for you later. If your relationship ends, the courts in your state may not grant you a divorce. That would mean you'd have to either stay married to your partner, or get a divorce in the state where you married. But while California and Massachusetts don't require that you be a resident in order to get married there, they do require residency before you can get divorced -- you must live in California for six months, and in Massachusetts for a year, before you can file for divorce there.

On the other hand, the good news is that if you previously got married in Massachusetts or Canada, your marriage will now be recognized in California and Connecticut -- and if you want to (and you're a resident), you can even get divorced there.