Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Marriage Gets Real: Newly Married Same-Sex Couples in Massachusetts Are Fitting In-As Long as They Stay Local and Don't Ask the Feds for Recognition

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Marriage Gets Real: Newly Married Same-Sex Couples in Massachusetts Are Fitting In-As Long as They Stay Local and Don't Ask the Feds for Recognition

Article excerpt

A few months after being legally married to her lesbian partner, Hillary Goodridge stood in the couple's backyard in Massachusetts trying to knock her child's toy loose from a tree where it was stuck. Site tried to throw a broom at the toy only to have it come crashing down, cutting her face.

Goodridge and her partner, Julie-both plaintiffs in the historic court case that led the state's supreme judicial court to rule in favor of legal marriage for same-sex couples--rushed to the hospital. At that moment the pair realized the practical benefit of legal marriage.

"We were in the emergency room when the doctor asked if she was married and then asked where her husband was," remembers Julie. Hillary responded that she was married to a woman who was sitting in the waiting room. Julie was soon by her side. "It. wasn't a big deal," Julie says, "but that was the first time we got to use our marriage to get treated with that kind of respect."

For the gay and lesbian couples who have married in Massachusetts since May 17, these tiny slice-of-life moments are the best measure of why their unions are so important. So far, those who were married and live in Massachusetts seem to be making relatively easy transitions to obtaining rights to health insurance, to property ownership, to getting names changed in school directories and on health club memberships, and so forth. With the election coming up in November, the political uproar ha the state appears to have simmered down.

Thus, life for married gay men and lesbians in Massachusetts has for the most part become, well, average.

Since they were married on May 17 at Newton City Hall, Maureen Brodoff and Ellen Wade say they haven't encountered any real problems. "There's a lot more acceptance mat there titan you might think," says Brodoff, who recently rented a car while traveling in Texas and was able to acid Ellen as a driver without the $10 to $15 surcharge. "Sure, it's not much, but in a small but practical way, it was nice to be afforded the same courtesy as other married couples."

Yet the couples who were married in Massachusetts but aren't residents of the state are facing a much tougher battle. On August 19 the supreme judicial court ruled in a preliminary decision that out-of-state couples' marriage licenses from Massachusetts are not legal.

Additionally, the federal government continues to deny married same-sex couples equal rights. Many Massachusetts couples have already been informed by their tax attorneys that the U.S. government will not allow them to file joint tax returns in 2005.

And there are other ways that the federal government continues to deny gay Americans equal rights. Donald Henneberger of Springfield was denied a request for an official name change from Iris former surname, Smith, by the National Passport Center in New Hampshire; the agency wouldn't accept a Massachusetts marriage license for a same sex couple as proof his name had been changed. Katy Gossman, an FBI agent in New Haven, Conn., received a notice from her employer that her wife, Kristin, was being dropped from its spousal health coverage plan. The couple, who live in Connecticut, had been receiving spousal benefits since getting married in Massachusetts in May. …

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