What Real Estate Rights does a Civil Union Afford an LGBT Couple

The Colorado Civil Union Act, C.R.S. 14-15-101, became effective on May 1, 2013 making it the only remaining state that allows civil unions. Other states that previously recognized those partnerships have adopted same sex marriage laws and converted civil unions, with the exception of Vermont, into marriages as a matter of law. Vermont enacted its same sex marriage law in 2009. All civil unions entered into before that date are still recognized as civil unions.

downloadNote that New Hampshire enacted its same sex marriage law on January 1, 2010. All legal civil unions contracted in another state or jurisdiction have been recognized as marriages in New Hampshire since that date. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 457:45.

According to law, same sex couples entering into a civil union obtain the same benefits, protections and responsibilities that are afforded opposite sex married couples. Rights related to real estate include the following:

1. The right to buy, own and sell real estate as a single entity.

2. The right to survivorship of the real estate and property. When one partner dies, the surviving partner will inherit according to the state laws of intestate success if there is no will or other estate planning in place at the time of death.

3. Homestead rights of a spouse. Homestead exemptions protect an amount of equity in the home from creditors and allow the property to be transferred directly to the surviving spouse upon the other’s death. That amount is set by state law. In Colorado, the amount is $60,000 of the home’s equity, or $90,000 if the surviving partner is disabled or 60 years of age or older. In Vermont, the amount is $125,000.

Colorado does not allow partners in a civil union to file joint taxes. Each must file individually and only one of them can take any deductions related to the real estate that they own together. Vermont allows partners in the civil union to file jointly for state tax purposes. Since federal law only recognizes marriages, couples in civil unions cannot file joint federal returns.

If you are in a civil union and are considering purchasing a home together, it would be wise to consult with an LGBT real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com or attorney. Those professionals have the knowledge to advise you on any laws that can affect your purchase.

The 11 Most Gay Friendly States Now That DOMA Is Struck Down

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act established in 1996, in favor of the recognition of same-sex marriage.  However, as of the day of that ruling only 12 states plus the District of Columbia are actually in alignment with this decision. The other 37 states still simply do not recognize gay marriage as a legal condition.

The ultimate result of this ruling is a polarization. The states that recognized gay marriage in the first place, before the striking down of DOMA, are friendlier then ever to LGBT citizens and the states that are not are more hostile (with the exception of Rhode Island and Minnesota that will officially recognize gay marriage as of August 1, 2013 and the bring the number of friendly states in the United States to fifteen.) The polarity will be made even more obvious because even though the federal government has recognized the constitutional rights of gay marriage partners the states that don’t will seem even more defiant and unethical towards LGBT spouses.

Currently the 11 friendliest gay states to move to (because they are in alignment already with the Supreme Court ruling) are;

California GayCalifornia: This hip state first began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008 and is home to many gay friendly towns and cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Palm Springs and San Diego.

Connecticut: This progressive state enacted a civil union law in 2005 that provides same sex couples full rights, and as of 2008 automatically transformed all of these unions into marriages that are honored in towns like Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.

Delaware: On May 7, 2013, Delaware became the 11th state to recognize same sex couples despite its rather conservative past thus playing a traditional role, as it always has, in defending the constitutional rights of Americans.

District of Columbia: Not really a state, the District of Columbia made same-sex marriage legal in 2010 after recognizing them as civil unions since 2002; the district was the first jurisdiction in the United Stets below the Mason-Dixon Line to allow same sex couples to marry and also to recognize domestic partnerships (in 1992.)

Iowa: Gay marriage became legal in Iowa in 2009 after recognizing civil unions since 2005; the state is home to Des Moines, which is a hub of cultural activity and progressive thinking in the U.S.

Maine: Maine has many gay-friendly small towns and resorts and a history of tolerance with Boston, Cambridge, Portland and South Portland leading the way when it comes to establishing gay-friendly communities.

Maryland” This is a progressive state that passed The Civil Marriage Protection Act in 2012 to recognize gay marriage and that boasts many eccentric LGBT communities, especially in Baltimore.

Massachusetts: This was one of the first states to recognize gay marriage in 2003 and is home to many gay friendly towns and cities including Boston, Provincetown and Northampton.

New Hampshire: This state first began recognizing civil unions in 2008 and gay marriage in 2010; many of its cities and quaint small towns are gay friendly including Berlin, Claremont, Franklin and Keene.

New York: Every city in this progressive state is gay friendly with The Big Apple (New York City) being the center of gay activism, theater, fashion and a huge supportive gay community.

Vermont: This state is considered a pioneer in terms of its legislative approach to LGBT rights and is known for swearing in a renowned lesbian activist, Beth Robinson, as the state’s first openly gay Supreme Court Justice.

Washington: Almost twenty percent of people who live in Washington have a post-graduate degree making this one of the most civilized and culturally sophisticated places to live in all of the United States.

These states plus the District of Columbia are the recommended places to move if you want to make the most of the financial perks, tax benefits and federal/veteran benefits now available to gay couples thanks to the repeal of DOMA.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com. Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.

Gay-friendly services look to become more profitable as ‘Gay Civil Rights’ open more doors

As anyone who is married knows, it is equal parts work and play—and sometimes just a lot of work.  This is set to be boon for businesses in communities where gay marriage is legal. Take all the aspects of any heterosexual marriage—mortgages, car payments, legal and financial considerations, condo association fees, and taxes—and put a slight twist on them. Overnight, you have a new industry.

Professionals of all types are bound to find new and unique ways to cater to same sex couples and reap the financial rewards.

There is never a shortage of lawyers, and with law schools reporting record attendance, this utilitarian breed will surely be amongst the first to specialize on a large scale in gay specific procedural and public services. Moreover, this kind of advocacy will further ingrain gay-friendly legislation into the American legal system.

Adoption and childcare services sensitive to the needs of children with same-sex parents would do well to build a reputation early and keep it. Childcare is a competitive and lucrative business these days. Children of same-sex parentage should be made to feel no different from their peers of course, but there may be occasions that warrant sensitivity and intelligence on the part of childcare professionals. 

Gay-friendly realtors and gay realtors are perhaps some of the most knowledgeable and adept gay-friendly professionals out there. Gay-friendly real estate services have long been the benchmark of specifically gay-friendly services. One standard bearer in the gay service industry is www.GayRealEstate.com.  They already have 20+ years of gay-friendly business knowledge, and a huge base of associates and clients.

As same sex partners continue to realize equality under the law, expect an upsurge in the gay real estate business, as LGBT newlyweds look for that first condo or finally land a dream home.

Gay-friendly services might also benefit by honoring a socially progressive agenda that expects clients, gay or straight, to be open-minded and welcoming. To some degree, these services should work to promote networking and understanding between all their clients. This is a fundamental aspect of any successful service industry, and clearly something that established successful gay enterprises, like www.gayrealestate.com, employ as a best practice. The gay-friendly service industry has the opportunity to make a fortune and do good.