Yesterday afternoon, I spent a half-hour in our County Circuit Court gaining a lifetime benefit from one specific civil right, granted to my man and me by being married. What is that right?
I mentioned on this blog that the first thing that my spouse and I did after our civil marriage ceremony was to walk to a county office to begin the process of retitling the deed to our property (house and environs) as “tenants by the entirety.” This is an incredibly important right granted only to married couples. (Legal explanation here.) This form of concurrent estate treats my spouse and me as one person and automatically grants rights of survivorship without the other having to pay estate taxes on the other’s share of the estate (property) when he dies.
There are over 1,000 specific rights granted to married couples that are denied to same-sex couples. With our home state permitting same-sex marriage as of this year, we are now able to obtain some of these rights since we married.
Unfortunately, some other rights remain denied to us through an archaic, inane United States law called the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). The U.S. Supreme Court held hearings on a DOMA case in March, and if they rule DOMA unconstitutional, then the rest of the rights that would make our marriage equivalent to any other marriage will finally be granted to us. That is particularly important to me, your blog author, because his spouse is a U.S. Federal Government retiree. My spouse’s retirement benefits are denied to me as a spouse — such as coverage for health insurance — until DOMA is overruled.
But there is some degree of celebration in our household — we have our newly recorded deed in-hand now and on file with the proper authorities. Woo-hoo! Small steps, but incredibly important!
BTW, how did our county land records office handle it? Professionally and courteously; no question about same-sex marriage. They just did their job and recorded our deed … but also congratulated us on our marriage and following through on re-recording the deed to our property. (The clerk also congratulated me on being the first in our county to do this without being an attorney or hiring one. I used to play an attorney on TV… naaah… I just read a lot and follow models so widely available on the internet now.)
Life is short: obtaining our rights is one of the most important results of our civil marriage.